Jemele Hill apparently faced no disciplinary action from ESPN after accusing President Trump of being a white supremacist on Twitter because of the sports network’s embrace of identity politics.
That is the contention of ESPN critic and Fox Sports Radio host Clay Travis, who contrasted the Hill situation with the firing of baseball analyst Curt Schilling last year.
Alongside Michael Smith, Jemele Hill is the co-host of the ratings-challenged 6 p.m. Eastern time edition of SportsCenter (SC6 or The Six) on the “Worldwide Leader in Sports,” which is based in Bristol, Connecticut.
[See Updates below]
Apart from dissenters such as Travis and Fox Sports 1 analyst (and former ESPN employee) Jason Whitlock, Jemele Hill has received a tremendous amount support from the sports industry and the social justice cohort on Twitter for her anti-Trump online activity.
Last last night, Hill essentially apologized to ESPN for the controversial tweets, and ESPN accepted the apology, so it appeared that any possibility of a suspension was off the table. A story has emerged that ESPN unsuccessfully sought to take Hill off the Wednesday night broadcast, however.
Describing himself as a radical moderate and a First Amendment absolutist, who has never voted Republican, ex-attorney Travis has derisively nicknamed ESPN as “MSESPN” and has argued that it is bleeding subscribers, in part, because it is pushing a liberal agenda on the typical viewer who just wants to watch a game or game highlights.
Yesterday, Travis broke the story that ESPN suspended longtime SportsCenter anchor Linda Cohn last spring for suggesting in a radio interview that the downward trend in viewership was partially the result of coverage of social or political issues.
In April, 2016, former MLB pitcher Schilling was fired by ESPN from Monday Night Baseball after posting an anti-transgender meme to his Facebook page in connection with the North Carolina bathroom law.
Writing for his Outkick the Coverage blog today, Clay Travis insisted that ESPN’s mistake was getting involved in vetting its employees’ political opinions in the first place.
“Once ESPN fired Curt Schilling, they set the precedent that they policed speech and from that point forward people have been waiting to see whether ESPN was biased in terms of the speech they police. That is, did they favor left wing speech over right wing speech? And now that Jemele Hill has escaped punishment, it’s readily apparent that what I have been telling you for the past two years is true — ESPN supports left wing political speech and condemns right wing political speech. Put plainly, that’s an untenable position.”
Travis added that ESPN applies different rules depending upon the circumstances.
“The ultimate truth of the matter is this — Jemele Hill kept her job and received no consequences for her speech because she has black privilege. She can call any white person she wants a racist and there are no consequences whatsoever for her.”
According to Travis, TV ratings for the 6 p.m. version of SportsCenter are down 20 percent from this time last year.
- President Trump Is A White Supremacist, ESPN Anchor Jemele Hill Claims
- Jemele Hill Vs. Linda Cohn Reveals ESPN Double Standard, Clay Travis Claims
As alluded to above, however, ESPN considered sidelining Jemele Hill from the anchor chair last night, according to what inside sources told the ThinkProgress blog. Co-host Smith refused to do the show without her, and two other African-American ESPN personalities declined to sit in for both of them, the blog added, so the The Six went forward with its regular hosts. “Faced with the possibility of having to replace Hill and Smith with white co-hosts, the sources said, ESPN then called Hill and asked her to come back on her show.” ESPN claims that this didn’t happen, however.
ESPN denies report that it tried to pull Jemele Hill from broadcast. https://t.co/Xgnwgxdor7
— USA TODAY Sports (@usatodaysports) September 15, 2017
Appearing on Fox & Friends yesterday morning to discuss Jemele Hill’s controversial tweets, Jason Whitlock suggested that the SportsCenter anchor was just engaging in virtue signaling to gain more popularity on social media.
“I think that ESPN has chosen a lane politically…[ESPN President] John Skipper has certainly made diversity in his view a business innovation for ESPN and has moved the company to the left. So I think no action here against Jemele Hill is a clear sign that they’re in agreement… Attacking the president is a way to get retweeted and liked and to build your following over Twitter…[Hill] just fell into that trap that a lot of us in the media fall into. We’re way too addicted to Twitter, and we’re way too worried about how many people follow us on Twitter and how many people like us.”
In a separate appearance on the Fox Business Channel to discuss the ESPN host’s tweets about the president, Whitlock claimed that Jemele Hill is trying to build her brand so that she can move to a show like The View or the equivalent, and this controversy is part of an exit strategy from ESPN and the “hardcore sports talk circuit.”
Updates: Earlier this week, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders deemed Jemele Hill’s tweets a fireable offense. President Trump himself weighed in this morning.
ESPN is paying a really big price for its politics (and bad programming). People are dumping it in RECORD numbers. Apologize for untruth!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 15, 2017
Describing the president as a “self-supremacist,” New York Post media columnist Phil Mushnick claimed that “it’s fortunate for Hill…[that] she’s protected by ESPN’s well-known code of highly selective justice and injustice, one that would have us believe that inequality promotes equality.”
On Sean Hannity’s radio show in a discussion about the controversy, Curt Schilling accused Disney and ESPN of supporting what he called “liberal racism,” Breitbart News reported. Former New York Giants cornerback Jason Sehorn (actress Angie Harmon’s ex-husband), an EPSNU college football analyst who is politically conservative, told Fox & Friends that ESPN suits told him to “curtail his political aspirations,” which he understood but now appears to be a contradiction in light of recent events, Breitbart separately reported. He also underscored that ESPN should concentrate on entertainment and sports as the E and the S in the network name suggests.
Watch this space for further updates on the Jemele Hill/ESPN controversy.
[Featured Image by Jessica Hill/AP Images]