ESPN Apologizes After Host Jemele Hill’s Anti-Trump Tirade on Twitter

SportsCenter analyst called president 'bigot,' 'white supremacist' on social platform.

ESPN Faces Yet Another Controversy, This Time Courtesy of 'SportsCenter' Host
ESPN's SC6, Michael Smith and Jemele Hill interview Doris Burke before Game One of the 2017 NBA Finals between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors on June 1, 2017 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. (Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

Most people switch on ESPN to watch Monday Night Football or catch the latest edition of SportsCenter, not trending news or politics. But in recent weeks, the cable sports network has waded into the swamp—both figuratively and literally—with not so sportsmanlike results.

You may remember a recent fantasy football mock-draft segment ESPN2 did, which was roundly criticized for smacking of a slave auction. Just a week later, the network was again criticized for pulling Asian-American college football announcer, Robert Lee, from a University of Virginia football game because of his coincidentally controversial name.

The latest blunder—well, at least perceived by some—comes after Jemele Hill, an African-American SportsCenter anchor, went on a multi-tweet and -day tirade about President Donald Trump.

ESPN then tweeted an apology, which seems to come out in favor of Trump—or at the very least, in saying it has a “position,” that it has a political angle. (Remember, the company, owned by Disney, has been accused of leaning leftward.) “We have addressed this with Jemele and she recognizes her actions were inappropriate.” That said, Hill has yet to delete any of the tweets.

Hill’s tweets have since been slammed on Twitter—many, seething with racist hate, the type that was spewed by white supremacists and Neo-Nazis at the deadly Charlottesville protests. Others have called for her job. She’s also seen a fair amount of support from the professional sports and celebrity communities, including estranged NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who tweeted his support; NBA Hall of Famer Reggie Miller; and actress Gabrielle Union, who is married to NBA star Dwyane Wade.

What ESPN is facing here is nothing short of identity crisis—one that it will have to evaluate in the coming months, or maybe even today. How does a big cable network deal with off-brand freedom of speech issues? Especially one where a former frat-boy culture once dominated and a more diverse one is taking shape.

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