The firestorm over ESPN’s Jemele Hill tweeting that President Donald Trump was a white supremacist hit whole new levels Wednesday, with news of the company’s previous action against Linda Cohn cited as a double standard by some, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders calling Hill’s tweets “outrageous” and “a fireable offense,” many in and beyond the sports world taking to Twitter to defend Hill, and many others (including Fox News panels) ripping her further.
Hill appeared as usual on SC6 Tuesday, but didn’t address the issue; she addressed it in a tweet at 11:38 p.m. Eastern.
— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) September 14, 2017
ESPN also sent out a statement to some media outlets afterwards. Here’s ESPN’s statement on the matter.
Jemele has a right to her personal opinions, but not to publicly share them on a platform that implies that she was in any way speaking on behalf of ESPN. She has acknowledged that her tweets crossed that line and has apologized for doing so. We accept her apology.
Hill’s statement isn’t a recantation of her comments, but an expression of regret for how they “painted ESPN in an unfair light.” And with a statement like that, one that ESPN PR probably had a hand in crafting, it seems unlikely the company has further discipline in mind for Hill. Their “we accept her apology” statement seems to indicate that, too. They already said her tweets “do not represent the position of ESPN” and were “inappropriate” Tuesday (which they’ve taken flak for as well, with Deadspin in particular calling it a “craven apology“).
It’s possible that ESPN considered a suspension or other action against Hill, or forcing her to make a more thorough recantation of her comments. They’ve certainly been known to suspend people before for all manner of reasons, including handing a three-week suspension to Bill Simmons after he called NFL commissioner Roger Goodell a liar. But the way this has blown up means that any further disciplinary action by the company would have brought a ton of left-wing condemnation for them, especially from all the people inside and outside the sports world who tweeted that they stand with Hill.
And any action short of firing her (which really would have provoked outrage) likely wouldn’t have satisfied right-wing critics, and even that probably wouldn’t have appeased many who like to regularly go at ESPN. So standing pat and having Hill issue this statement regretting the way her comments painted ESPN seems like a logical move. And it now looks like all sides are hoping this blows over. It’s not necessarily going to exit the stage soon unless something that incites right-wing critics more shows up, but it doesn’t look like ESPN or Hill are set to provide any further fuel for the fire.
[Jemele Hill on Twitter]