At their core, journalists are truth tellers.
Jemele Hill is both.
Which is why I’m so confused as to why ESPN is so up in arms over her tweets from Monday.
“Donald Trump is a white supremacist who has largely surrounded himself w/ other white supremacists.”
All 84 of those characters are an absolute fact.
David Duke loves Donald Trump.
Donald Trump hired Steve Bannon.
Donald Trump said there were “some very fine people on both sides,” when he told us what he really thought about Charlottesville.
Donald Trump defunded an anti-neo Nazi group known as Life After Hate that is run by former skinheads, which helps get people out of that life.
Donald Trump even lives in a White House that still hasn’t committed to signing a joint congressional resolution that would condemn white supremacy, although it was unanimously passed in Congress.
On Wednesday, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders called for Hill’s job
“That is one of the more outrageous comments that anybody could make and certainly is something that is a fireable offense by ESPN,” she said.
That’s right, the White House is trying to normalize racism.
Jemele Hill calls President Trump a white supremacist on Twitter much to ESPN’s dismay.
(Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images)
This is also the second time one of Trump’s press secretaries has attacked a black female journalist this year. In March, former press secretary Sean Spicer tried to belittle April Ryan when he told her to “stop shaking her head” during a press briefing.
All of these things are facts. But so is this.
“The comments on Twitter from Jemele Hill regarding the President do not represent the position of ESPN. We have addressed this with Jemele and she recognizes her actions were inappropriate.”
ESPN had the audacity to release that statement condemning one of the faces of their network. But then I remembered that ESPN President John Skipper has an identity issue when it comes to the company he runs.
I can also tell you that there are some disgruntled employees at ESPN that are working behind the scenes to have a sit down with top management to air out their grievances about this situation.
However, people in Bristol aren’t the only ones upset.
“When the White House won’t commit to signing a Congressional resolution condemning white supremacists then you know @jemelehill was right.” – @Toure
“Just catching up but if we are not allowed to call out supremacy, we will always be unable to defeat it. Thank you @jemelehill” – @JasFly
“trump: white supremacy is good
white supremacists: trump is a white supremacist
jemele hill: i agree
ESPN: whoa whoa whoa” – @netw3rk
Jemele Hill, who co-hosts the 6 p.m. SportsCenter with Michael Smith, draws quick response from ESPN over her ‘inappropriate’ actions.
(Leon Bennett/Getty Images for BET)
Colin Kaepernick even weighed in with his support for Hill.
“We are with you @jemelehill (black fist emoji)” – @Kaepernick7
But the biggest problem is that ESPN doesn’t know who they want to be. The worldwide leader is convinced that they need to have something for everybody, instead of just being the best versions of themselves.
Dear ESPN: Stop trying to be Golden Corral, and just be Chick-Fil-A.
“The Worldwide Leader” has embraced debate, diversity and discussing the arena of social issues in sports like none other.
So why run from it now?
Because in a social media era in which feelings are delicate as ever, some media companies have lost the thick skin that is needed for them to be truth tellers.
ESPN knew who Jemele Hill was when they hired her, and they knew what they were getting when they decided to make her the co-host of her own daily SportsCenter.
Which is why it has been frustrating to watch a company give someone so much, but then do little to protect one of their best assets and talents.
Ever since Hill and her co-host Michael Smith were tapped to be the faces of the 6:00 p.m. version of SportsCenter known as The Six, the duo has been consistently attacked on social media. Hill has received the wrath worse than anyone at ESPN, as she gets a double daily dose of hate. Because not only is she black, but also a woman.
It’s been so bad this week that BlackSportsOnline wrote an article listing some of the worst tweets directed at Hill filled with sexist and racist comments that frequently included the N-Word.
But yet, ESPN has never released a statement in support of Hill, or any of its black talent, while denouncing the vitriol they have to deal with on a daily basis.
President Trump (l.) with his former chief strategist Steve Bannon.
(MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
ESPN loves to pick and choose who and what they release statements on while forgetting to realize that supporting their staff goes far beyond than just promoting them.
I addressed this situation in a column from June that touched on how ESPN deals with the criticism from its audience.
Much of the hate was spewed at four people: Stephen A. Smith, Jemele Hill, Michael Smith and Bomani Jones. Four black personalities that started out as journalists, that connect with audiences on a multitude of different platforms. They are part of the future of the network and have styles that align with what younger demographics want: sports, culture, and social commentary done intelligently.
ESPN used to be a place where white men’s vernacular and opinions were plentiful, but not anymore. The network has embraced diversity to the fullest extent. “The Undefeated” is a site dedicated to race, sports, and culture under the ESPN/Disney umbrella, while women and people of color representing all colors, shades and sexual orientations are writing and appearing on programs to give a sense of cultural identification for those that never used to see themselves on the network.
Publicly calling the President of the United States a white supremacist isn’t necessarily something anybody wants to do.
But that’s the hand we’ve been dealt, and besides, calling out the President isn’t anything new.
Journalists were behind Watergate and were there to hold Richard Nixon accountable.
Journalists also held Bill Clinton’s feet to the fire when he lied to the American public about his affair and was ultimately impeached.
ESPN has never claimed to be some high-ranking architect of journalistic fortitude. In fact, the acronym stands for Entertainment and Sports Programming Network.
But, ESPN loves to hire credible journalists to provide news, commentary, analysis, and facts.
And that’s what Jemele Hill did on Monday.
She did nothing wrong.
Hill just works for a company that is still trying to figure out who they want to be after almost 40 years of being in the business.
ESPN made a grave mistake this week that they may never recover from. Because denouncing an employee who calls out a president for being a white supremacist, is, in fact, supporting that same white supremacy.