Let’s talk about Jemele Hill for a hot second. She is the 6 p.m anchor for Sports Center, and ESPN just suspended her for two weeks for violating their social media guidelines.
If you haven’t been following this story, a little background. Jemele is black. She is a woman. She works for ESPN.
About a month ago, Hill found herself in hot water when she tweeted that President Donald Trump is a “white supremacist,” after the violence and rhetoric following the Charlottesville marches. The whole situation became highly politicized when the White House called for her job at a press briefing.
With the threat of nuclear war in North Korea, and a health care bill that could impact hundreds of millions of Americans, the White House spent its time demanding that a sports show fire its black, female host over a tweet.
Hill said she regretted that her tweet “painted ESPN in an unfair light.”
Now flash forward to this past weekend. Dallas Cowboy owner Jerry Jones announced that he would bench any player that disrespected the flag, and Hill took to social media again.
Here are the two tweets Jemele Hill sent out:
This play always work. Change happens when advertisers are impacted. If you feel strongly about JJ’s statement, boycott his advertisers.
The second tweet said:
Or, how about not patronizing the advertisers who support the Cowboys? You can watch and do that, right?
ESPN promptly suspends her for two weeks? What are we talking about here?
Really? What exactly did she say that would warrant a two-week suspension? Because she works for ESPN, she can’t have a personal opinion about the Dallas Cowboys owner?
If ESPN wants to control everyone’s Twitter accounts that much, they should just write all the tweets for them.
I guess I could understand if she said something offensive or derogatory or at least used some curse words. But asking people not to patronize advertisers if they disagree with the Cowboys is about as tame an opinion as you can have in today’s Twitterverse.
There’s no way I can know what kind of conversation Hill had with her supervisors at ESPN. Maybe they spelled out exactly what she could tweet and what she couldn’t. Maybe she even agreed to those terms.
But this sure seems heavy handed to me. If you hire a smart, capable black woman to be an anchor on your television sports network, and she then has a reasonable opinion about a sports story, I don’t think you can then suspend her for having a hot take.
I would think a network that has been trying to become more diverse and more female friendly would have the backbone to stand up for their employee and not cave to the pressure of politics.
I would love nothing more than if the Cowboys’ starting players took inspiration from Hill’s bravery and called ol’ Jerry’s bluff. What would happen if the entire offense took a knee during the next anthem at their game. What about the entire team? Would Jerry just forfeit the game?
I guess freedom of speech applies if you’re the president or if you own a football team, but not if you’re a woman with a strong and very reasonable opinion.