Off The Air: ESPN Host Who Called Trump A White Supremacist Is Reassigned

Matt Vespa
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Posted: Jan 27, 2018 6:05 PM
Off The Air: ESPN Host Who Called Trump A White Supremacist Is Reassigned

ESPN Host Jemele Hill has been taken off the air. She hasn’t been fired. She’s just been reassigned to the Undefeated, a sub-division of ESPN that’s the “premier platform for exploring the intersections of race, sports and culture.” Hill caused a firestorm last fall when she tweeted that President Trump is a white supremacist. She was not suspended or fired for her remark, though her colleague, Linda Cohn, was reportedly suspended last April for suggesting the sports network’s dabbling in politics played a role in their 10 million-subscriber loss over the past five years. That’s what made this even more controversial. ESPN: the network where you can call the president a racist, but get suspended for saying politics is what’s killing the business. Some ESPN employees reached out to folks, like Clay Travis of Outkick The Coverage, to voice their frustration over the Hill fiasco, one admitted to pretending to be a Democrat just to remain employees. 

Well, now, Hill is off the air, leaving the 6 P.M. block of SportsCenter for this writing gig at Undefeated. Richard Deitsch of Sports Illustrated has more, including where Hill has zero regrets for her remarks—just that she used the wrong medium: 

ESPN SportsCenter anchor Jemele Hill is leaving the 6:00 p.m. SC6 edition of SportsCenter to join the staff of The Undefeated, the ESPN microsite that fuses sports, race and culture, as well as other additional assignments. Multiple sources confirmed that Hill asked management for the switch. She is expected to depart SC6 the first week of February. Hill has three years remaining on her ESPN deal. 

As this column wrote in October when it predicted Hill’s tenure as the co-host of the 6 p.m. ET edition of SportsCenter would end, Hill's departure from SportsCenter will not be a shock to those in Bristol. ESPN management clearly has limits to the speech it will allow from front-facing talent on social media, particularly those representing the SportsCenter brand, and Hill likely did not feel her show had management’s unwavering support given the events of 2017.

[…]

I've talked a lot with Hill over the years about a number of topics in sports media, from sexism to race to sports media people discussing social issues on Twitter. I find her to be one of the most honest brokers I deal with in sports media. She was a guest on the Sports Illustrated Media podcast on Jan. 4 and four months after tweeting that the President of the United States “is a white supremacist who has largely surrounded himself w/ other white supremacists” and how Donald Trump “is the most ignorant, offensive president of my lifetime,” Hill said stood by the content of her comments but regretted the medium.

Again, she has no apologies (via The Hill):

ESPN host Jemele Hill said in an interview published Saturday that viewers who disliked her comments about President Trump last year have a "definite right" to feel that way.

She told Variety that she is leaving SportsCenter to pursue an ESPN position where commentary is encouraged.

Hill said that many Trump supporters were unable to look past her comments slamming the president last year. In October, Hill tweeted that Trump was a "white supremacist," angering many of his supporters.

“That’s OK. They are allowed to feel that way. The people that don’t want to get past it won’t. They made their decision not to. It’s not something that bothers me. They have a definite right to feel that way. I don’t really think about that when I’m on television or as I’m reporting or writing," she said.