ESPN Won't Suspend Jemele Hill Over Tweet Calling Trump "White Supremacist"
ESPN host Jemele Hill will "not be suspended or further punished" for a tweet Monday which called President Trump a "white supremacist," according to Payne & Bieler of the WASHINGTON POST. ESPN yesterday issued a statement on the since-deleted tweet, saying Hill's comment was "inappropriate" and does not "represent the position of ESPN." Hill’s tweet about Trump came just before 8:00pm ET on Monday as a reply to three others who had "joined a conversation sparked by an earlier tweet about musician Kid Rock." Hill’s tweet about Kid Rock "eventually resulted in a discussion of the White House." Her mention of Trump "ended up catching the attention of several conservative media outlets." This is "not the first time ESPN has gotten grief from conservatives, who believe the network has become too liberal or political in general" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 9/13). In response to someone on Twitter vowing not to watch “SC6” unless ESPN fired her, Hill tweeted, “Do you know the difference between twitter & TV?” (CHICAGOTRIBUNE.com, 9/12). In DC, Bradford Richardson writes ESPN "issued a meek statement." In the past, ESPN has "shown a willingness to punish employees who have made controversial statements" (WASHINGTON TIMES, 9/13). In Orlando, Mike Bianchi writes Hill was "wrong to call" Trump a white supremacist. What she did was also "irresponsible." Publicly calling someone a white supremacist is "something you would expect from some random, anonymous yahoo on social media; not a respected journalist" like Hill. Bianchi: "Even if you privately believe Trump is a white supremacist, you simply don’t throw that term around publicly unless you have some sort of hardcore proof" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 9/13).
TWITTER RESPONSE: Hill's comments sparked a firestorm of Twitter commentary that extended well beyond sports circles. Sportswriter Jane McManus: "Hill has always been a role model to me. Her authenticity in the face of hostility is inspiring. Her professionalism is the standard." Yahoo Sports' Charles Robinson: "I've called @jemelehill a friend for 20 years. And I've never been more proud of her. Unfortunately, speaking your truth makes you a target." TNT's Reggie Miller: "I'm on Team @jemelehill." Former NFLer Terrance Knighton: "Y'all mad at @jemelehill but white supremacist think trump is a white supremacist." Syndicated radio personality Charlamagne Tha God: "How you more offended by @jemelehill's tweets than you are Trump's rhetoric that caused the tweets?" Meanwhile, observers on both sides of the political spectrum found ESPN's treatment of Hill inconsistent with the net's past actions. Stand-up comedian Pete Dominick: "@espn has reprimanded @jemelehill for calling Trump a white supremacist but has re-hired HankWilliamsJr. who compared Obama to Hitler." Conservative commentator Larry Elder: "@espn FIRES @dougadlertennis for saying 'guerrilla' in a @Venuseswilliams match. @jemelehill calls @POTUS 'white supremacist'=no worries. ... She keeps her job. Curt Schilling, @gehrig38, unavailable for comment." Conservative blogger Wayne Dupree: "ESPN: Anti-Trump tweets from anchor Jemele Hill do not reflect network's views ... but you 'fire' conservative voices."
SIXTH SENSE: THE RINGER’s Bryan Curtis writes when Hill “tweets about Donald Trump, some of Twitter’s noisiest critics like to complain” about what she and “SC6” co-host Michael Smith are “doing to 'SportsCenter.'” But Hill and Smith are "asking the opposite question: What’s the franchise doing to them?” Hill: “Because we’re 'SportsCenter,' we overthink a lot. We’re like, ‘Does this fit the 'SportsCenter' brand?’... They’re (ESPN Execs) not putting pressure on us to do that. It’s just we’re in our own heads about it.” Curtis notes this tension -- between “being the fearless opinion-slinger ESPN hired and honoring the legacy of a venerable franchise -- isn’t just the kind of thing that’s on Jemele Hill’s mind.” It is the “very dilemma of the network she’s trying to help reinvent.” Smith said, “If we struggle in any area with 'SportsCenter,' it’s because we’re still trying to be all things to all people. We’re trying to keep that person that’s just not gonna be kept, no matter how hard we try, in 2017.” Curtis writes President Trump’s election pulled ESPN "fully into a political vortex.” And now “just about everyone in Bristol has offered Hill advice about how to deal with social media.” But Hill “refuses to suffer in silence.” Hill: “I’ll put my record for people deleting their tweets up against anybody’s at ESPN. I get an enormous satisfaction when I see somebody delete a tweet” (THERINGER.com, 9/13).