The contrived vilification of Malika Andrews has reached a tipping point

The contrived vilification of Malika Andrews has reached a tipping point

There’s no such thing as a good echo chamber. Eventually, bad narratives begin bouncing around, spreading and taking root at a cellular level.

NFL receiver Dez Bryant has exposed how hollow he actually is by attacking ESPN’s Malika Andrews on Monday. Presumably, Bryant has been Too Online and been following the discourse around ESPN’s lead NBA anchor. Nobody would ever accuse Bryant of being an intellectual, but his opinion on Andrew takes the dunce cake.

Bryant’s criticism is just a fraction of the ire directed at Andrews for the simple act of existing as an NBA reporter. In the days since Josh Giddey was accused of engaging in sexual relations with a minor, the corner of the Internet intent on disciplining Andrews has used Miles Bridges and Ja Morant, as justification to attack her. It’s almost as if there is a segment of Black male NBA fans who believe that equality will come in the form of getting Andrews off the air. What was once baseless gossip among basement Internet users has become a talking point for retired Pro Bowl receivers.

Oddly, Andrews was ripped for days about not discussing Giddey while her show NBA Today was on break during the holidays. Folks were really sitting around sleeping off their Thanksgiving tryptophan wondering why Andrews wasn’t breaking into college football coverage to deliver nothing about Josh Giddey’s circumstances.

The crazy thing about Bryant’s rant is that at the time he directed it, Andrews had already addressed the Giddey situation on her show. During their first day back Monday, Andrews addressed the Giddey allegations, but critics still found a way to nitpick her tone. Of course, we’re talking about a man who slapped his own mama and was among those fervently supporting Deshaun Watson, but Bryant epitomized the intellectual laziness and misogynoir that much of the NBA’s fans traffic in.

The anger directed towards Andrews almost anytime a Black athlete gets into trouble is nearing disturbing levels. Andrews isn’t an analyst. She doesn’t go off on cultural issues a la Sage Steele. She rarely shares opinions beyond X’s and O’s. She mostly presents topics to panelists, keeps the convo moving with incisive comments here or there and occasionally conducts frothy interviews.

Black men wanting more accountability from Andrews than from Giddey or the athletes she reports on is the sort of thing you get from lost souls who believe Megan Thee Stallion framed Tory Lanez. It’s easier to attack the reporters than the athletes caught up in these situations than to re-examine toxic fandom.

The coverage of Brandon Miller’s presence was a little heavy handed in the early going, but Andrews merely mentioning his connection to a capital murder case months earlier is routine for draft coverage. Draft Day is a celebration for athletes personally, but journalists don’t take the day off. Discussing warts of prospects on national television is part of the process.

Much of the animosity towards Andrews stems from a contentious exchange she had with Stephen A. Smith on First Take after the Boston Celtics suspended Ime Udoka prior to last season.

“I think what stood out to me was that Brad Stevens was upset that women were unfairly dragged into this within the Celtics organization. You could see that Brad Stevens was visibly upset by this,” Andrews opined last September. “I also found that to be gross and unnecessary that folks were bringing in the names and images of women that was purely [based off] speculation. The Celtics organization could have done more and short of doing more ahead of this yesterday, they could have owned that responsibility in the press conference… The fact that it was able to go on all day, the fact that we are sitting here debating whether someone else should have been suspended or not.

Added Andrews,“We are not here Stephen A to further blame women. That is not why we are here.”

Entirely ignoring her point by inventing a scenario that depicts Andrews using her platform to target Black men was a convenient way to ignore her message about standing up for women. What NBA YouTube stans conveniently forget is how she also blamed Brad Stevens for the circus.

I doubt Bryant realizes this, but a vast majority of the NBA’s stars are African-American and All-Star Weekend is the Black Super Bowl. There’s really no way around reporting on issues involving Black athletes. The closest thing to Travis Kelce in the NBA is Tyler Herro and that’s stretching it. She even gets mocked for her coverage of Miles Bridges, who brutally assaulted his wife.

Bryant later chose to bring up the touchy subject of her husband in a response to a tweet from CBS Sports anchor Chris Williamson. Andrews actually isn’t married, but her relationship with ESPNs Dave McMenamin is the constant subject of weird Internet slander. Negativity directed towards somebody’s personal relationship is always dorky, but it takes on a new life anytime Andrews reports on a Black athlete. Comments about her hatred of Black men far outnumber the criticism of Giddey. And don’t tell me we don’t have enough information yet to criticize Giddey while simultaneously asking Andrews to call for his head. Those are two conflicting ideas.

All in all, the Giddey situation is another example of the irrational resentment and Internet harassment directed at Andrews. Attacking Andrews’ biracial background or mixed relationship, and trying to draw a correlation to her banal questions and teleprompter reads highlights the mental and moral rot that takes place when men need a woman as their villain to deflect from their hero worship of troubled athletes.

Follow DJ Dunson on X: @cerebralsportex 

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About the Author

Anthony Barnett
Anthony is the author of the Science & Technology section of ANH.