By Benjamin Mullin 

Walt Disney Co.'s ESPN has suspended Adrian Wojnarowski, its top scoopmonger on the inner workings of the National Basketball Association, after it was revealed he used profane language in an email to a U.S. senator, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Mr. Wojnarowski will be suspended from ESPN for at least a week without pay, the person said.

In a statement posted on Twitter Friday, Mr. Wojnarowski apologized for sending an email to Sen. Josh Hawley (R., Mo.) with profane language in response to a press release from Mr. Hawley's office earlier in the day that criticized the NBA for its policy on political speech about China.

"I was disrespectful and I made a regrettable mistake," Mr. Wojnarowski wrote. "I'm sorry for the way I handled myself and I am reaching out immediately to Senator Hawley to apologize directly."

Mr. Wojnarowski didn't respond to an email seeking further comment. A spokesman from ESPN declined to comment.

Outkick earlier reported that Mr. Wojnarowski had been suspended.

On Friday, Mr. Hawley's office distributed a press release that linked to a letter from the senator to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver calling on the league to broaden the list of political messages recently approved for players to wear on their jerseys. The letter suggested including slogans supporting the U.S. military, police officers and pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.

Minutes after the press release went out, Mr. Wojnarowski dashed off a two-word reply that contained the "F" word, according to a screenshot Mr. Hawley posted to Twitter.

In his letter, Mr. Hawley also said that the NBA apologized to the Chinese government after Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey tweeted in support of pro-democracy protesters last year.

At the time, the NBA said that it was "regrettable" that Mr. Morey's tweet offended the league's Chinese fans but didn't apologize to the Chinese government.

An NBA spokesman said the league was reviewing Mr. Hawley's letter.

Mr. Hawley said on Twitter on Sunday that ESPN shouldn't suspend reporters but rather "ask tough questions" about the NBA's relationship with China. He also requested a meeting with ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro, who has steered ESPN employees away from outright political commentary since he was appointed president in 2018.

Mr. Wojnarowski's suspension comes as the NBA is planning to resume a shortened regular season that will conclude with playoffs on the Disney World campus in Orlando. Players are being isolated to minimize the risk of contracting the coronavirus.

Write to Benjamin Mullin at


(END) Dow Jones Newswires

July 12, 2020 16:18 ET (20:18 GMT)

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