ESPN anchor Jemele Hill started a firestorm with late-night tweets where she called President Donald Trump a white supremacist. The two sides went back-and-forth, with ESPN issuing several statements and Trump issuing his own via his Twitter account. Hill broke ESPN’s social media policy for a second time over the weekend, and she has now been suspended for two weeks:
“Jemele Hill has been suspended for two weeks for a second violation of our social media guidelines. She previously acknowledged letting her colleagues and company down with an impulsive tweet. In the aftermath, all employees were reminded of how individual tweets may reflect negatively on ESPN and that such actions would have consequences. Hence this decision.”
Her latest comments come in response to Jerry Jones’ decision on standing for the national anthem.
Disney (parent company to ESPN) CEO Bob Iger previously spoke into why the company chose not to fire Hill, via Yahoo:
“I felt that we had to take context into account. Context included what was going on in America. What I felt, what we felt, was that there were a lot of people who were outraged, particularly black people. They felt that the promise that was given to them — liberty and justice for all — during the Civil War or Civil Rights movement — were theirs. What they’ve seen in the last couple of months is the opposite,” he said.
Despite those comments, Iger maintains that Hill must remember she is an ESPN employee and “she can’t separate herself from that when she speaks publicly or uses Twitter.”
The White House recently doubled down on their assertions of unfairness by ESPN, with Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders talking again about the issue to reporters back in mid-September.
The full statement from the Press Secretary:
“I think the President has made many comments on that front,” Sanders said. “I think the point is that ESPN has been hypocritical. They should hold anchors to a fair and consistent standard. ESPN suspended longtime anchor Linda Cohn not too long ago for expressing a political viewpoint. The network’s public editor has that said there’s a perception that ESPN has become political and that has harmed the network. This is clearly a political statement. They should be consistent in whatever guidelines they have set themselves in that front.”
The consistency that Sanders is referring to is ESPN suspended Cohn, as well as letting go of Curt Schilling for political statements made while with the company. Former reporter Britt McHenry also believes she was unfairly treated for her conservative political views while at ESPN.
The tweets from Hill that started the controversy remain undeleted:
Hill has been with the network for over 10 years, recently taking over hosting duties on the 6 p.m. SportsCenter with long-time co-host Michael Smith. Hill has remained on television during the controversy.