If you've been one of the increasingly smaller number of viewers to have tuned into NBC at any point during basically any Winter Olympics event — no matter how unrelated that event is to figure skating — you will have probably seen Adam Rippon, the skater who slammed Vice President Mike Pence because of his conservative Christian beliefs about homosexual lifestyles. When Rippon's events were completed and he had officially won the bronze, NBC decided to make their promotion of him official by offering him a job as a correspondent for the rest of the games.
But on Sunday, Rippon turned NBC down. The skater announced his decision not to take the offer from the fawning network via Twitter.
"I am flattered that NBC wanted me to work as a correspondent for them here in PyeongChang. Doing this would require me to leave Team USA and move out of the Olympic Village. I don't want to do that so I had to declined the opportunity," he wrote in a series of tweets. "I love being on Team USA and representing our country. My teammates were there for me during my events, and now I NEED to be there for them. I look forward to being with them, and I’m very excited for the rest of the competition. Go Team USA!!!"
NBC handled the public rejection well enough. Here's how the network announced the disappointing news from its favorite anti-Trump White House Olympian:
The golden boy of the Internet (and bronze medalist in team figure skating) told NBCSN that, even though he was flattered by the opportunity, he wanted to retain his status as an Olympic athlete and stay in the Olympic Village.
Even after his rise to fame (three strong skates, a slew of hilarious one-liners and a vibrant personality will do that), Rippon is still focused on skating and his teammates. Team USA still has three ice dance teams and three women left to compete, and Rippon didn’t want to miss out on any of the remaining Olympic action.
The whole Rippon-Pence feud began when USA Today asked Rippon what he thought about Pence leading the U.S. delegation to the Olympics opening ceremony.
"You mean Mike Pence, the same Mike Pence that funded gay conversion therapy? I’m not buying it," said Rippon.
Pence's press secretary responded with a statement calling the claim "totally false": "The vice president is proud to lead the U.S. delegation to the Olympics and support America’s incredible athletes. This accusation is totally false and has no basis in fact. Despite these misinformed claims, the vice president will be enthusiastically supporting all the U.S. athletes competing next month in Pyeongchang."
When Pence attempted to reach out to the skater to set up a meeting, Rippon turned him down, to NBC et al's delight.
Rippon isn't the only openly gay Olympian to diss the vice president. Skier Gus Kenworthy also gained a lot of attention and praise for declaring that there was a "silver lining" to breaking his thumb last week.
"Broke my thumb yesterday in practice," Kenworthy announced on Twitter. "It won’t stop me from competing (obvi) but it does prevent me from shaking Pence’s hand so… Silver linings! Will be giving my teammates (and literally everyone else) an enthusiastic ‘thumbs up!’ of encouragement the rest of the trip."
Maybe he'd be more open to a gig with NBC? Might be worth a look.
As for the ratings, NBC's struggle to draw viewers continues. Here's Deadline with more bad news:
On the second Saturday of the South Korea-set competition, NBC and NBC Sports Network pulled in a 10.4/19 in metered market result for their joint primetime coverage. Down a hard 20% from the previous February 15 and February 16 lows of the 2018 Games, that’s the worst rating so far for PyeongChang coverage. It is also a drop of 32% from the melded NBC and NBCSN results of February 10, the first Saturday of these games.