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 has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.