I hope ESPN’s Jemele Hill won’t become the next Colin Kaepernick.
I’m a little nervous for the co-host of “SportsCenter” because it could happen. You know how these things can go: Formal apologies are issued: A little time elapses and then the individual in hot water announces plans “to leave to pursue other interests.” Hill, one of a handful of black female national sports figures, would be sorely missed if the already struggling ESPN dared to pull something like that with her.
All she did was express her personal beliefs about a president who, among other troubling things, has said the Neo-Nazis and white supremacists at protests in Charlottesville, Va., last month had some “very fine people” on their side and that “both sides” were to blame for deadly violence that left one counter activist dead and others injured.
Hill found herself in the center of a media firestorm after a series of tweets on Monday night during which she touched a proverbial third rail by proclaiming, “Donald Trump is a white supremacist who has largely surrounded himself w/ other white supremacists.”
Backlash against Hill’s tweets has been visceral and included even a public denunciation by White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, who said on Wednesday that Hill’s remarks should be a “fireable offense.”
So, Hill should be fired but President Trump has yet to sign a resolution passed by both houses of Congress on Tuesday denouncing white supremacy and calling for him to speak out against white racist groups such as those that put on such an ugly show of hate in Charlottesville.
When she tweeted Monday, it was clear that Hill wasn’t speaking for her entire network. The veteran broadcaster was expressing her personal beliefs when she wrote: “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.”
But that didn’t stop ESPN from quickly issuing a disclaimer and Hill from also sending out one saying: “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….”
That should be the end of it but given the current climate I wouldn’t be surprised if there were more repercussions. A whole lot of Trump supporters are also ESPN fans and from what I’ve been seeing on social media, they’re saying terrible things about Hill, much of it unprintable.
I’m nervous for her.
We saw what happened with Kaepernick, who became an NFL pariah after refusing to stand for the national anthem.
Will the implications for daring to speak her mind be as dire for Hill? Given what is happening in Washington, it’s got to be hard for her to talk about sports all the time.