Trump demands apology from ESPN for ‘outrageous’ remarks Tweeting on Friday, President Trump demanded that ESPN apologize “for untruth,” following an accusation by a black sportcaster who called him a “white supremacist.” The president wrote: “ESPN is paying a really big price for its politics (and bad programming). People are dumping it in RECORD numbers. Apologize for untruth!”
This week “SportsCenter” co-host Jemele Hill ranted on Twitter, writing on Monday: “Donald Trump is a white supremacist who has largely surrounded himself [with] other white supremacists.” Hill added, “Trump is the most ignorant, offensive president of my lifetime.” Hill wrote, “His rise is a direct result of white supremacy. Period,” adding, “He is unqualified and unfit to be president. He is not a leader. And if he were not white, he never would have been elected.” “The height of white privilege is being able to ignore his white supremacy, because it’s of no threat to you,” Hill added. “Well, it’s a threat to me.”
During a news conference on Wednesday, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that Hill’s “outrageous” comments are a “fireable offense.”
On Wednesday, Hill returned to Twitter, writing: “My comments on Twitter expressed my personal beliefs. My regret is that my comments and the public way I made them painted ESPN in an unfair light. My respect for the company and my colleagues remains unconditional.”
ESPN is refusing to fire Hill over the remarks. “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,” the network declared in a statement. “She has acknowledged that her tweets crossed that line and has apologized for doing so. We accept her apology.”
Sanders defended Trump on Wednesday and pointed out that he has recently met with “highly respected leaders in the African-American community” to iron out community relations. “I think that’s where we want to be focused and not on outrageous statements like that one,” she said.
When ESPN tried to take Hill off the air on Wednesday after her Twitter rant, co-host Michael Smith refused to do “SportsCenter” without her, according to reports. When ESPN attempted to replace Hill with other black sportscasters, Elle Duncan and Michael Eaves, ThinkProgress reported that they also refused. Eaves tweeted on Wednesday, about two hours before the taping of the 6 pm SportsCenter known as “The Six,” “Man.. this day got me like...” Eaves added cartoon emoji faces to his missive. However, ESPN denies that it tried to replace Hill.
Hill’s rants began as a response to news about Robert Ritchie a.k.a. Kid Rock, a Michigan native and singer who is considering a Senate run in 2018. An article about Kid Rock said that media outlets have called him a racist for sporting Confederate flags despite his claims that he loves black people. Kid Rock’s son, Bobby Ritchie Jr., is black.
Hill denounced Kid Rock in earlier tweets, writing that he should not use a flag that “unquestionably stands for dehumanizing black people.” Going further, she wrote of Kid Rock: “Donald Trump is a bigot. Glad you could live with voting for him. I couldn’t, because I cared about more than just myself.”
ESPN has been criticized for its apparent politics. For example, the network dismissed a college football announcer named Robert Lee: an Asian-American whose name resembles that of Confederate hero Gen. Robert E. Lee. ESPN admitted it removed Lee because of fears of Twitter retribution. In April, ESPN fired baseball analyst Curt Schilling because he shared a Facebook post about North Carolina transgender bathroom law. Schilling, a former All-Star pitcher, had written: “LET HIM IN! to the restroom with your daughter or else you’re a narrow-minded, judgmental, unloving racist bigot who needs to die.”