The uproar over Jemele Hill’s controversial remarks about Donald Trump isn’t likely to settle down soon. The narrative that ESPN has a liberal slant and discourages conservative opinions continues to gain fuel.

That’s especially true when critics and outlets like Fox News keep making an issue of how ESPN approaches politics and how its on-air talent discusses their views off-camera. Those who feel ESPN has become too political and encourages a one-sided angle see affirmation when Hill is censured, while others like Linda Cohn and Curt Schilling are suspended for expressing their viewpoints.

Former ESPN employees speaking out and saying that they were asked to publicly refrain from politics are going to keep the narrative and add further confirmation for those who see bias from the network. We’ve already seen Britt McHenry appear on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show to feed that view. And on Thursday, the Fox & Friends morning show had former NFL star and ESPN analyst Jason Sehorn to share his experiences.

“When I as a fan and a viewer tune into ESPN, I don’t want politics and I don’t want to look at a person and have to think politics,” Sehorn said. “So I understood when they asked me to curtail some of my political aspirations. When I see it now, it’s like ‘Whoa, wait a minute. You told me one thing and you run a program one way, and yet you completely contradict yourself.

“I want sports when I turn to ESPN and now all of sudden, the lines are getting blurred a little bit and I think that’s what they have to clarify more than anything else.”

Sehorn has publicly expressed his support for the Republican Party. He spoke at the 2004 Republican National Convention to advocate for George W. Bush’s re-election. Presumably, he wasn’t going to express his views while offering college football analysis on ESPN, but did network executives discourage him from talking politics in public and on social media outlets? If so, you can see where he perceives a double standard.

It should be noted that Hill’s role on ESPN is to be more of a cultural commentator, while Sehorn provided analysis for a particular sport. Many will say that she should stick to sports, but is in a position where she responds to what’s going on in the world and how that might be reflected in sports.

Asking Sehorn to refrain from political talk is quite a different circumstance than suspending him if he supported or was critical of a political figure. What we don’t know is if ESPN made a similar request to Hill, and only acted once the network felt compelled to do so. But the situations are not as similar as Sehorn might want to portray them.

About Ian Casselberry

Ian is an editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing. He has covered baseball for Yahoo! Sports, MLive.com, Bleacher Report and SB Nation, and provides analysis for several sports talk radio shows each week. He currently lives in Asheville, NC.

  • Dale Moog

    What Hill did was wrong. The fact that people can now get away with these kind of sick public comments is what is wrong with country. I feel people that make sick and offensive comments about Democrats or Republican should be treated equal. If you make false statements about a political figure out of anger. Then you should be punished. I am not against your right to challenge political thought. I am against your dishonest mean comments. Twitter is a public forum. It is not like you are having a conversation in your home or at a local bar. people act like Twitter is a private forum. It is not you have a public spotlight. I wish people would figure this out. Hill would not be in trouble if she was as smart as she thinks she is and shut up on twitter.

    • souvien

      Wow, you must really hate the founding fathers then.,.the stuff Jefferson, Madison, Adams, Hamilton etc. publicly wrote and said about one another was amazingly mean and vitriolic.

      Then again, they were made of sterner stuff than today’s conservative snowflakes!

      • Bobby Whitman

        Tougher than all those libs too…no doubt.

      • Hephaestus

        You SHOULD go read those. Intelligent people having a discourse. Far removed from what we see these days.

        • souvien

          So true, just imagine what Jefferson would make of the current imbecile-in-Chief!

          • Hephaestus

            My favorite (had to hunt it down so as not to misquote):
            “That bastard brat of a Scottish peddler! His ambition, his restlessness and all his grandiose schemes come, I’m convinced, from a superabundance of secretions, which he couldn’t find enough whores to absorb!”
            John Adams on Alexander Hamilton

          • souvien

            If I recall, Adams at one point called Jefferson a hermaphrodite!

          • Sagitarriat Jefferspin

            Props! But, I’ll bet they too didn’t want to see politics on their sports channel….

          • Dale Moog

            This proves my last comment. You have an agenda I do not. I have enough respect for the office and the leader of this nation not to call him names. I feel that people who have no class or respect are a real problem.

      • Dale Moog

        I will have you know I can take any of your mean horrible abusive talk. I just wish people were smarter than slipping to the lowest common thought. I think many people are incapable of reasoned thought. I can break apart your faulty logic first you are guilty of a red herring. I never equated anything about hating free speech. I hate people thinking they are free from public outrage and personal loss by poor choices in speech. What MS.Hill said was disrespectful and wrong just like MOST liberals have been saying about President Trump is disrespectful and wrong. I am ashamed that we have lost civility in this culture. If you dare to have reasoned debate with some one they twist every word you say and call you every name in the book.

  • Scott Fitzgerald

    Wait, you guys are moving the goal post. Awful Announcing and other outlets have said that “stick to sports” is stupid and and everyone should be able to express their point of view. Now Jemele Hill is a “cultural commentator” and Jason Sehorn is an analyst. So essentially Jason Sehorn should “stick to sports.” That is contrary to what the “anti-stick to sports” movement has been about.

    • ChuckJ

      Basically what they’re saying is, if you are not a liberal or Social Justice Warrior, you should shut the hell up. What Hill said is disgusting and flat out false.

    • Nathan Walter

      Yeah, I thought that was a ridiculous take as well.

  • Bobby Whitman

    I voted for President Trump. Today they are putting on a brave face at espn. But the erosion will set in later…and a price will be paid. Whether she stays are goes makes me no nevermind. Trump is still the president, and back-benchers like jemele hill can like it are lump it. We already knew espn, and liberal networks in general, use double standards. This is just further proof of it. No news there. I never watched her show because it’s boring, and seems to be geared toward teens, and the twentysomething crowd. Long as Trump is in office and Obama is out, I’m fine. Just add her comments to that giant liberal crybaby pile. hill see Ms. hill seems sad, and her smile is starting to show fault lines. Say something else about President Trump…all you liberals…if it’ll make you feel better. The girl’s small time.

  • ChuckJ

    Hypocrisy. And worse, you can say plenty about Trump, but this notion that he’s some white supremacist is flat out wrong and everyone knows it.
    You know, the reason she kept her job is because she’s black. Oh, and liberal. If it weren’t for that, ESPN would’ve at the very least, suspended her.

    • kelly

      It’s also the reason she got the job.

    • Sagitarriat Jefferspin

      Yeah, just (and this is a layup) imagine Sehorn or some other ESPN commentator saying the opposite about another administration.

      You’d have to call a cab to hurry and meet them at the lobby elevator, as they were being escorted by security off the premises.

  • BobLee Says

    Jemele Hill “has a right” to her opinions of Pres Trump; and “a right” to express them on Twitter and on-the-air via ESPN or elsewhere. ESPN “has a right” to project whatever ideological image it wishes to. There are no FCC regulations regarding a TV network being overtly “political”.
    … By its kid gloves handling of “all this” ESPN overtly contradicts its on-going protestations that it is NOT political. Hill’s on-going high profile presence at ESPN and likely continuing expressing her provocative opinions will be a daily reminder to any/all viewers of what to expect to see/hear on ESPN.
    The American TV audience individually and collectively “has a right” to watch / not watch whatever network / programs it chooses. If a viewer or large block of viewers exert their “right” to not watch ESPN… so be it. ESPN/Disney stockholders have “rights” to question network executives on how they are managing their investment.
    All God’s creatures’ got “rights”. Via ATT U-verse, I have access to over 400 channels of which I have designated 24 as “Favorites”. Whether I have ESPN’s various channels on My Favorites’ list is totally up to me. …. All this seems pretty simple to me. Am I “right”?

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  • Nathan Walter

    Bill Simmons was fired for three weeks for calling Roger Goodell a “liar”, claiming he had to have seen the Ray Rice video. ESPN claimed Simmons can’t call Goodell a “liar” without proof.

    Am I wrong in insinuating that they should be treating Hill in the same way? Unless she’s willing to offer firm proof that Trump is a “white supremacist”, how is what she said any different?

    ESPN now has to consider the workplace morale they are creating. They’ve already buried themselves in the public eye, so they should just turn to trying to salvage themselves within the office, and this can’t be a morale booster. Simmons, Cohn, Law, Schilling, Steven A. Smith—all of them were suspended for far, far less (and all of them rightly deserving of the punishment they faced)—it would seem that in Bristol, some employees have more of a right to say what they will.

    Yes, I realize that Simmons had issues before. As had Law, Smith, and Schilling. And for all we know, there could have been private reprimand and even a warning issued to Hill, but the public perception is, and will continue to be, there is a stark double-standard taking place at ESPN. And from what I’m gathering from previous employees, it seems that not all is well within the offices of ESPN.

    Hill needs to be suspended. I don’t even like Donny Two Scoops, but what she wrote was highly inappropriate and unnecessary. It was also terrible for the business side of ESPN, perhaps fatal. But ESPN can’t treat her with kids gloves on this. You don’t get to call someone a white supremacist and not have concrete proof of it. That’s the exact reasoning they gave for suspending Simmons for calling a less-prestigious role a less-inflammatory name.

    There are no politics to this: ESPN has to expect the same journalistic standards out of everyone in their offices.

  • DC is Evil

    ESPN is going to side with Hill, regardless of what they said publicly. But they can also expect to see their subscriber base continue to slowly erode.

  • Sagitarriat Jefferspin

    Oh, Hill is a “cultural commentator”. /That’s ok, then/

  • Shugie

    So sick of the liberal bias at ESPN. Stop putting money in this networks pocket. Boycott them!

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  • Texas Wedge

    ESPN became too political, so I stopped watching and I don’t miss it. I won’t miss it when it goes away for poor ratings, either. Good riddance!