Popular ESPN “SportsCenter” host Jemele Hill is no fan of President Trump’s, however, her employer would rather she keep that to herself.
On Tuesday, the network released a statement on a comment the 41-year-old made on Twitter on Monday, when she labeled Trump a “white supremacist.”
ESPN, which has been accused by far-right conservatives of being too openly liberal with its politics, called Hill’s tweet “inappropriate” and noted her comments do not “represent the position of ESPN.”
ESPN said it addressed the issue with Hill, who will not be suspended or further punished for her expressing her views online.
Hill’s tweet came just before 8 p.m. on Monday as a reply to three others who had joined a conversation sparked by an earlier tweet about musician Kid Rock, who has spent much of the summer teasing at a Republican run for the U.S. Senate.
Hill originally commented on an article tweeted by the Hill about Kid Rock’s rejection of being labeled a racist because he favors the Confederate Flag.
Hill’s tweet about Kid Rock spurred hundreds of responses, from both conservatives and those who agreed with her, which eventually resulted in a discussion of the White House. Her mention of Trump ended up catching the attention of several conservative media outlets, including the Federalist, the Daily Caller and Breitbart, which claims ESPN would’ve fired her if she were conservative and said such a thing about a liberal politician.
ESPN has fired people over social media comments before. For instance, the network famously canned Curt Schilling after he shared on Facebook a lewd cartoon criticizing North Carolina’s controversial “bathroom bill,” that would have required transgender individuals to use public bathrooms that corresponded to the sex they were assigned at birth. (Schilling now works for Breitbart.)
In that case, Schilling didn’t insult a politician, but the country’s transgender population, many of whom may be ESPN viewers. Commenting on Schilling’s firing, the network assured fans, “ESPN is an inclusive company.”
This is not the first time ESPN has gotten grief from conservatives, who believe the network has become too liberal or political in general.
The network saw backlash from the right when it awarded Caitlyn Jenner its Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the 2015 ESPYs. The network even saw political backlash earlier this year when it laid off dozens of employees, including former reporter Britt McHenry, who suggested her conservative politics played into why she was targeted. (McHenry, who never hid her conservative leanings while employed at ESPN since 2014, now regularly appears on Fox News.)
“It’s a sign of the times,” Neal Pilson, a former president of CBS Sports who is an adjunct professor at the Columbia University School of Professional Studies, told the New York Times in May about the perception that politics have become intertwined with sports. “I think people are looking for bias, and opinion, and information that in some way involves some hidden signal or indication that there’s a political bias in one direction or another.”
Source: The Washington Post
Featured Image: Courtesy of ESPN, Inc.