On Monday and Tuesday, ESPN host Jemele Hill tweeted about President Donald Trump and called him a “bigot” and “white supremacist.” Hill first tweeted about Kid Rock and his usage of the Confederate flag but the conversation in the replies spiraled to Trump and white supremacy.
The reaction was swift. ESPN PR tweeted out, “The comments on Twitter from Jemele Hill regarding the President do not represent the position of ESPN. We have addressed this with Jemele and she recognizes her actions were inappropriate.”
Several black reporters and commentators defended Hill’s sentiments and tweets and said that she was speaking honestly about the topic. Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitsch reported on ESPN’s employees’ response to Hill’s tweets.
On Wednesday, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked about Hill’s comments and whether the President was aware of them. She said she did not know whether the President was aware, but “that’s one of the more outrageous comments that anyone could make, and certainly something that I think is a fire-able offense by ESPN.” Hill has still been co-hosting her 6 PM edition of SportsCenter throughout the controversy but she has not tweeted since Tuesday.
Some conservatives complained of a double-standard at ESPN, especially as Curt Schilling, who is now at Breitbart, was fired for posting anti-transgender social media content. However other conservatives complained about the White House’s response of calling for Hill’s job (which technically Sanders said that it was “fire-able” and did not explicitly call for Hill to be fired).
The move comes as another controversy for ESPN as finally faded away. ESPN was criticized earlier in the summer when it changed Robert Lee’s football broadcasting assignment shortly after the Charlottesville attack. ESPN made the move in consultation with Lee, but nonetheless it sparked controversy with critics saying that ESPN was trying to be overly politically correct (ESPN said that their primary motive was to prevent undue trolling of Lee).