Jemele Hill

Weeks after ESPN disavowed SC6 anchor Jemele Hill’s tweets calling President Donald Trump a white supremacist and reportedly contemplated pulling her off-air, only to settle for an apology and no punishment (after Disney CEO Bob Iger got involved), they have now actually suspended her following a further Twitter controversy. Here’s the statement ESPN PR sent out Monday:

What did Hill do this time? Well, the statement doesn’t specify, but it seems likely it’s about tweets she sent calling for Dallas Cowboys fans to boycott the team’s sponsors in the wake of owner Jerry Jones’ comments that any Cowboys’ players “disrespecting the flag” won’t play. Here are some of those tweets:

Hill would later attempt to clarify her comments.

That led to stories from conservative sites like Fox News, and to a further amount of anti-Hill backlash. But with this move, ESPN will likely again be criticized from all sides. Many right-wing critics won’t be happy that she was only suspended and not fired, while left-wing critics will be outraged that Hill was punished (and this time, for commenting on a sports issue). It’s notable that many of those Cowboys’ sponsors are also ESPN sponsors, though, so there’s a corporate interest at play here. And as we saw with Bill Simmons and Curt Schilling, there’s nothing ESPN hates more than people who cross a line after being told not to.

This is a pretty harsh suspension by ESPN standards, though. It’s not as high as the three weeks Simmons got for calling Roger Goodell a liar, but it’s longer than, for example, the week Stephen A. Smith got for saying women have a responsibility to prevent domestic violence against them, or the week Sean Salisbury got for lewd photos, or the week Will Selva got for plagiarizing a newspaper report during a highlight.

But if anything is consistent about ESPN discipline, it’s its inconsistency. And that’s how you don’t get suspended for calling the president a white supremacist, but get two weeks for suggesting fans upset with the Cowboys should boycott their sponsors. But hey, the latter probably annoyed advertisers more, and Robert Lipsyte’s comments that “there is no ideology at ESPN beyond the bottom line” are still very true.

[The Big Lead]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz is a staff writer for Awful Announcing.

  • Destro

    I would bet that some high ranking executives at the NFL got on the phone with their counterparts at ESPN and laid down the law. ESPN needs the NFL way more than they need Jemelle Hill.

  • Raymond Chuang

    I think this could have a HUGE effect on the upcoming 7 to 10 am SportsCenter that Mike Greenberg and Sage Steele was supposed to start hosting. Scheduled originally for the beginning of January 2018, now it has been pushed back to (likely) April 2018 and at the rate things are going, ESPN may just scrap the whole idea and have Greenberg and Mike Golic re-up for a new stint on “Mike & Mike” for three years instead.

    • If the Mike vs Mike rumors are true, it’s too late to undo what’s been done.

      • Raymond Chuang

        I think Greenberg and Golic are still amenable to continue “Mike & Mike” if Jemelle Hill ends up being let go and ESPN is forced to scrap “The Six” project, which was in many ways a “beta test” for the new morning SportsCenter show.

        • Deon Hamner

          You can’t go back now. Mike and Mike is done.. Wouldn’t even be fair to Trey Wingo… I mean 19 years is a great run. Hell did Mike and the Mad Dog go that long?

          • Raymond Chuang

            While I would generally agree, the highly-fluid situation with Jemelle Hill (and by extension, Michael Smith) could have huge repercussions if Hill is let go and Smith resigns “as the matter of principle.” That would put a quick end to the “The Six” project, which was in many ways a “beta test” for what ESPN planned for its new 7-10 SportsCenter show.

            Look, Trey Wingo is already a major presence on several NFL-related discussion shows on ESPN; ESPN could just up his pay so he stays on those NFL-related shows.

    • MrBull

      Or they could put Greeny at 6 pm in place of the weak team they have that will be soon out of jobs due to being to political….

      • Destro

        The problem with that is that Greeny hosted the 6 pm slot for years. In his mind he may view it as a demotion to go back.

        • Raymond Chuang

          Though Greeny won’t say it publicly, he (and ESPN) “The Six” has not been a complete success for ESPN. And with Jemelle Hill being embroiled “all in” with the NFL national anthem controversy in a way that is uncomfortable for ESPN, one now really wonders will ESPN President John Skipper–already dealing with way too many issues at the company–may have not choice but to “cut bait” with both Jemelle Hill and Michael Smith because the advertisers are grumbling.

        • MrBull

          It could be viewed that way…but, the 6 pm Sportscenter today is now different then back when he hosted in terms of what the show is covering….

  • On the one hand, my opinions line up with Jemele’s. OTOH, his tweets can be easily seen as taking aim at ESPN’s partners. They are a business and their business interests come first, like it or not. So I think maybe this time she crossed a line in conduct unbecoming to the corporate entity.

    At least until Bob Iger runs for president against Trump.

  • OOS

    I didn’t cut my cable because of Ms. Hill, I cut my cable because ESPN executives could even consider making someone like Ms. Hill one of the faces of their network. They show a lack of respect and do a disservice to their viewers when they put someone on who can’t see both sides of an issue. Her lack of judgement is completely clouded by her point of view, – I imagine she thinks OJ was innocent – but it is ultimately the responsibility of ESPN management to provide its viewers with an accurate narrative.

    • Christopher Bates

      Because she’s black, of course, and all black people think OJ is innocent.

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  • MrBeepo

    Ms. Hill is a dung beetle.

  • MrBull

    The Espn suspension rules are clear: say tweet something about or say anything about our clients and sponsors ie, the NFL and Dallas Cowboys and you will see days off!….
    Hill should have kept to ripping the President as the Liberals running Espn had her back…but $$$$$ rule over political views any day…
    Hill got what she deserve, two weeks for her second violation…expect her days at espn to be numbered….
    Bye Felicia……

  • Shawn Diiorio

    Well, at least she took a shit on both sides. (Trump and The NFL)

  • Nathan Walter

    “And that’s how you don’t get suspended for calling the president a white supremacist, but get two weeks for suggesting fans upset with the Cowboys should boycott their sponsors.”

    You could call it inconsistency on ESPN’s side. Or you call it foolishness on Hill’s part. This isn’t her first issue with impulsive and ridiculous comments, it’s not even her second. Nor is this her first suspension for such comments.

    She had been previously warned. She already alienated a huge voter base with her first comment and now, she jeopardizes advertising revenue with her next. Viewers and financial backers—I’m amazed ESPN didn’t just fire her. Most companies would have moved on by now.

  • BobLee Says

    In the pantheon of “maybe I shouldn’t haves…” how does this compare to Joe Girardi not challenging the HBP? … Looking like ANOTHER bad week for “Skippy” In Bristol. … Was the suspension “with pay” or “without”? … How does this affect Jemele’s master plan to be Michelle’ Obama’s running mate in 2018?

  • Grumpy Old Man

    Since ESPN has about 37 channels, why don’t they just create a 3 hour block every day with personality driven content on anything and everything outside the sports world?

    They don’t because they know nobody will watch.

    Sooner or later, they will have to decide what they are and what they are not.

    Until they do, they will continue to have loose cannons creating controversy.

  • Barcthespark

    I’m still waiting for the Awful Announcing story about Jason La Canfora lying about Colin Kaepernick saying he would stand for the anthem if he were to sign with an NFL team. It was big news everywhere else, but I guess had nothing to do with this site which is dedicated to broadcasting.

    • CreightonRabs

      Keep waiting. I guess they don’t want to offend a fraud like LaCanfora since he seems to agree with the unwritten rule at AA that “Thou shall defend Kaepernick at all costs” or something like that.

      • John Danknich

        That’s definitely true at Pro Football Talk. I think Florio has a shrine to Saint Colin of Kaepernick in his basement.

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  • Matt

    Other than live games, I don’t watch ESPN. (Which is thin) Had no clue Hill put out more stupid statements again. Just fire her!

  • Romelle Slaughter

    Didn’t Tony Kornheiser get a two-week suspension for his comments during his radio show about 15 years ago?? That was the longest suspension I can recall ESPN handing out.

    • Deon Hamner

      It wasn’t 15 years. But yeah he got suspended for calling out Hannah Storm for her dress/appearance on his ESPN show. The beginning of the end of the national syndication…

    • Nathan Walter

      Simmons got three weeks for calling Goodell a liar without proof.

  • notfunny2u

    Just wondering if anyone caught Around The Horn today. The topic was Jerry Jones/flag protests and Frank Isola started to counter the opinion of Sarah Spain. He started “come on, Sarah” and she responded pretty vehemently with a “don’t come on, Sarah, me” or something. It was decidedly not the playful “competitve banter” the show likes…she was pissed…her view that no one can infringe on anyone’s “first ammendment rights” and Isola’s being that a company can tell the employees what they can or cannot say, basically.

    Anyway, I hadn’t know about the Hill suspension prior to viewing that and now it sheds light on the interaction.

  • Shawn Rychling

    “What did Hill do this time? Well, the statement doesn’t specify,”

    Huh?? Does Andrew Bucholtz go through life with blinders on? Perfect example of being obtuse on purpose. A hallmark of left-wing political hacks!

    • Nathan Walter

      My favorite was Deadspin’s “ESPN suspends Jemele Hill for no good reason”

      Yes, “for no good reason”. Mmhmm. That’s totally why.

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  • dd

    I support the players and was happy with the statement Jerry Jones made with the players on MNF. I am though respectful of the fact that this is Jerry Jones team and he can do whatever he wants. I don’t why people expect billionaire owners to be a catalyst for change, but its people like Jemelle Hill that seem to divide people even more. Jerry Jones is a businessman and is doing what is best for his business like millions of people would.

    As a Dallas Cowboy fan, I have issues with Hill trying to bully Dez Bryant weeks ago over the flag. I personally find it appalling that she believes she has the right to tell Dallas fans and sponsors to boycott games. Part of being in a democracy is the freedom to choose if you want to watch football. I Don’t need either Trump or Hill telling me what I should think. Every fan can decide for themselves if this is an issue that personally offends them.

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