It appears that the White House has failed at keeping Donald Trump abreast of all the current and necessary issues. It was not until this morning that he finally and officially responded to SportsCenter’s Jemele Hill’s initial tweets from five days prior. He tweeted, “ESPN is paying a really big price for its politics (and bad programming). People are dumping it in RECORD numbers. Apologize for untruth!”
Back on Monday night (Sept. 11), what started out as a criticism of some Facebook comments Kid Rock (yeah, girl, I know) made in regards to his affection for black people, ESPN’s Jemele Hill tweeted out, “He loves black people so much the he pandered to racists by using a flag that unquestionably stands for dehumanizing black people.” Of course, a long back and forth between some Twitter users and Hill followed. And then it happened. The tweets transitioned to Donald Trump.
Hill stated the obvious. She called him “a white supremacist who has largely surrounded himself with other white supremacists.” She then went on to call him “the most ignorant, offensive president of my lifetime” and a “bigot.” Hill essentially echoed the thoughts of many American and practically every opening monologue of any late night comedy show for the past year.
ESPN, in a statement after the first tweets, said that the “comments … do not represent the position of ESPN. We have addressed this with Jemele and she recognizes her actions were inappropriate.”
To no surprise to anyone, The White House had a response. On Wednesday (Sept. 13), The Hill reported, when asked about the tweets, White House press speaker Sarah Huckabee Sanders declared Hill’s accuracy as “One of the more outrageous comments that anyone could make and certainly something I think is a fireable offense by ESPN.”
Really? Fireable? Is it that outrageous to call Trump a white supremacist? The same Trump who still thinks the Central Park 5, who are Black men, are guilty of raping a white woman despite DNA evidence exonerating them? The same Trump who was sued by the feds, not once, but twice, for housing discrimination after investigators found he refused to rent apartments to African-Americans? And also, most recently, the same Trump who initially failed to denounce Neo-Nazis after their violent protest in Charlottesville, noting that people on “both sides” were at fault? (Seriously, I could go on for days...)
For the days following the controversial tweets, many of Hill’s colleagues over at ESPN, other journalists, sports stars, and fellow Americans spoke out in her defense. However, shortly after Sander’s call for Hill’s dismissal at ESPN, Hill issued an official semi apology, via Twitter:
And ESPN seemingly accepted in their own Twitter statement:
Following the tweets, Jemele Hill appeared on air with fellow co-host Michael Smith on their show SportsCenter. No harm, no foul, right?
Nope. Over the last two nights, rumors have been swirling that ESPN actually did try to keep Jemele Hill of the air. It’s also alleged that her co-host refused to do the show without her. According to The Washington Post, ESPN has since denied those claims, however no confirmation from either Hill or Smith.
There are so many serious conversations that we’re not having as a country. This is not the highest on the list but this is definitely up there. Whenever celebrities or public figures speak out on any controversial topic, the consensus is that they should not dabble into politics and stick to whatever industry or field they are known for. Why? Especially given our current socio-political climate. Not to mention, our current president is a millionaire best known for his reality tv fame.
ESPN has been faced with a lot of negative criticism for their coverage and the discussions of race and politics, mostly ignited by Colin Kaepernick’s silent protest of the national anthem. But for all this, you’d think Jemele Hill said her tweets on air at ESPN during a SC6 segment about the current football season or something. She did not. She was not at work. Does she represent ESPN at ever wakening moment of her life now? But above all else, what did she say that was inaccurate? Has Donald Trump not done all that she said?
Literally everything is about profit and big corporations need to draw the line clearly as to what they can and cannot accept from their employees beforehand. So often they prefer to appease their audiences instead of aligning their business with having some sort of moral standing. The backpedaling and half ass defending afterwards is phoney and confusing.
It is socially irresponsible to expect Jemele Hill or any other tax paying American to be uninvolved in any political matters, because well she’s a sports journalist. This issue is definitely not going to wrap up any time soon. Trump will continue to criticize ESPN and Jemele Hill until she is fired or until she apologizes. Hill hasn’t deleted the tweets yet, so the latter is looking slim.
Image: ESPN SportCenter6
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Bry'onna Mention is a digital editor at BUST and a wavvy womanist who is always ready to square up against misogynoir and respectability. She can usually be found running through the burbs with her ‘fro. Catch her on the internet at @radsadblackbry or email@example.com.