In a series of tweets, ESPN SportsCenter host Jemele Hill claimed, among other things, that President Trump is a white supremacist who surrounds himself with other white supremacists, and that he only won the presidency because of his skin color.
She also insisted that Trump is ignorant, offensive, and unqualified and unfit to serve as U.S. president.
Jemele Hill and Michael Smith host the 6 p.m. Eastern time version of SportsCenter, which has been particularly struggling in the ratings, as has the entire network itself generally. In another tweet, Hill — who reportedly earns a seven-figure salary from the Worldwide Leader in Sports — indicated that she feels threatened by white supremacy.
ESPN public relations disavowed Hill’s social media comments, however, in a statement released earlier today on its Twitter feed.
“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.”
Although ESPN used to have a no-politics rule, its recently updated guidelines seem to allow its commentators (as opposed to hard-news reporters) to opine on politics, but only if it relates to sports, however. Dissenters claim that the prior no-politics rule only applied to conservative politics.
ESPN has lost millions of subscribers in the past several years through cord-cutting. Some observers such as vocal ESPN critic and Fox Sports Radio Host Clay Travis maintain that part of the audience erosion is the result of the network’s progressive, social justice content that alienates viewers who just want to relax and watch games or game highlights.
In an essay on the ESPN website published in December 2016, public editor (i.e., ombudsman) Jim Brady conceded that the network had moved in a leftward direction, alienating some of its audience.
In an interview on Tucker Carlson Tonight, Travis claimed that there won’t be any actual career consequences for Jemele Hill at ESPN because her views supposedly reflect those of the Bristol, Connecticut-based sports network’s executives. He contrasted that with the treatment of former ESPN on-air personalities Curt Shilling, who was fired for posting an anti-transgender meme, and Mike Ditka, who Travis claims was let go after criticizing Obama.
“Nothing actually happened, because Jemele Hill is saying what the higher-ups at ESPN believe…She continues to do her show because Bob Iger and John Skipper, the CEO of Disney and the president of ESPN, agree with her and want left-leaning politics to be the forward-facing front of ESPN…I don’t know how people who voted for Donald Trump can feel comfortable at all watching ESPN when they know the values that network espouses and how unwelcome their own values are.”
Watch the full Clay Travis interview with Tucker Carlson and draw your own conclusions.
After the interview, Clay Travis — a former lawyer who describes himself as a radical moderate who has never voted Republican — reported on his Twitter feed that ESPN suspended longtime anchor Linda Cohn merely for remarking that ESPN was talking too much about politics.
As alluded to above, and as the Inquisitr has chronicled, for whatever reason or combination of reasons, Disney-owned ESPN reportedly loses about 10,000 cord-cutting subscribers every day and lost about 13 million subscribers in the past six years. Cable and satellite providers charge each customer $7 a month for the ESPN channels, so the loss of income for ESPN — which is on the hook for $7 billion-$8 billion in telecast rights fees due various sports leagues — is massive.
The red ink resulted in April layoffs of about 100 public-facing employees, including on-air anchors, commentators, and website writers. Travis asserted on the Carlson show that more layoffs are the way.
As the controversy over the Jemele Hill tweets about President Trump and white supremacy is a developing story, be sure to watch this space for updates.
[Featured Image by John Salangsang/Invision/AP Images]