On Wednesday, ESPN host Jemele Hill whined that her tweets calling President Trump a white supremacist paint the network in an unfair light. Meanwhile, The Hill said, the White House responded to her initial accusation, saying she should be fired from her job at ESPN.
“My comments on Twitter expressed my personal beliefs. My regret is that my comments and the public way I made them painted ESPN in an unfair light. My respect for the company and my colleagues remains unconditional,” she said on Twitter.
— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) September 14, 2017
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On Wednesday, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders called Hill initial accusation “outrageous” and called on the network to fire her.
“That is one of the more outrageous comments that anybody could make and certainly is something that is a fireable offense by ESPN,” she said.
According to The Hill:
ESPN has reprimanded Jemele Hill, an African-American woman who co-hosts a show called “SC6 with Michael and Jemele,” for a string of tweets sent out over the weekend calling Trump and his supporters white supremacists.
In a statement, ESPN sought to distance itself from Smith’s remarks.
“The comments on Twitter from Jemele Hill regarding the president do not represent the position of ESPN,” the network said. “We have addressed this with Jemele and she recognizes her actions were inappropriate.”
But many on the right are fuming, believing that it is the latest in a string of incidents that reveal ESPN’s liberal bias.
Sanders, The Hill added, defended Trump on Tuesday, saying that he had recently met with Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), who is black, and other “highly respected leaders in the African-American community” and that he is “committed to working with them to bring the country together.”
Moreover, the president met with top Democrats and is reportedly considering an amnesty of some 800,000 illegal immigrants, much to the chagrin of his support base.
Hill’s statement got mixed reaction as supporters backed her up. But critics said she should still be fired.
Um, OK. They still should have fired your ass.
— David Wohl (@DavidWohl) September 14, 2017
But facts don’t matter — only the narrative.
This kind of stuff is what's gonna give us Trump again in 2020 😐
— $Doge 🚀 (@MikeD_OrBigO) September 14, 2017
That may not work if the president caves on DACA and the wall, as we reported earlier.
Daniel Holloway, Senior TV reporter at Variety, said the controversy “magnifies” troubles at the network:
Hours after the White House called for her to be fired Wednesday, Jemele Hill was in her regular seat on the 6 p.m. ET edition of ESPN’s “SportsCenter.” She made no reference to the controversy that a day earlier had compelled her own network to publicly censure her. She and co-host Michael Smith led off the show with a report on the Cleveland Indians’ 21-game winning streak.
That Hill was on the air with Smith as usual was an indicator of the line that ESPN is attempting to walk after the host took to Twitter Monday to call President Donald Trump “a white supremacist who has largely surrounded himself w/ other white supremacists.” Right-leaning critics have become increasingly outspoken about a perceived liberal bias at the cable channel at the same time that ESPN faces significant declines in ratings and subscriber numbers. Those losses have far more to do with shifts in television viewing habits than with ESPN employees’ Twitter accounts. But the channel’s handling of the Hill controversy indicates that it is wary of alienating viewers anywhere on the cultural spectrum as it attempts to evolve.
“They’re nervous,” says Windy Dees, a sports-administration professor at the University of Miami. “They have to be. They’re hemorrhaging viewers left and right.”
According to Holloway, ESPN’s subscriber base has dropped 7.4 percent to less than 88 million between 2015 and 2017.
Apparently, insulting half the country isn’t very good for business.
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