ESPN wanted to suspend Jemele Hill, but her colleagues had her back

JEMELE16
Jemele Hill attends ESPN: The Party 2017 held on Friday, Feb. 3, 2017, in Houston, Texas.

The Jemele Hill tweetstorm, which resulted in the White House encouraging ESPN to fire the 6 p.m. anchor, has led to a lot of discussion and trolling about whether the sports network went too soft on Hill for her tweet labeling the president a “white supremacist.”

According to ThinkProgress.org, ESPN wanted to suspend Hill for Wednesday’s show, but co-anchor Michael Smith said he wouldn’t go on air without her.

ESPN then reportedly asked Michael Eaves and Elle Duncan, two other black anchors, to sub for Hill and Smith, but they refused, too.

Faced with the dilemma of seeming to bow to White House pressure and the bad optics of subbing two black co-hosts with white co-hosts, ESPN gave Hill a green light to return, ThinkProgress reported.

ESPN disputed the reports.

“Yesterday was a hard and unusual day, with a number of people interpreting the day without a full picture that happened,” Rob King, the senior vice president for news and information at SportsCenter, told ThinkProgress. “In the end, ultimately, Michael and Jemele appearing on the show last night and doing the show the way they did is the outcome we always desired.” 

“We never asked any other anchors to do last night’s show. Period,” ESPN spokesman Josh Krulewitz responded to ThinkProgress.

Hill’s only comment regarding the controversy is that she regrets painting “ESPN in an unfair light.”

She has not apologized for the original tweet, which said: “Donald Trump is a white supremacist who has largely surrounded himself [with] other white supremacists,” she tweeted. She also called Trump an “an unfit, bigoted, incompetent moron” who is “unqualified and unfit to be president.”

“[I]f he were not white, he never would have been elected,” she tweeted.

At least The Daily Show was able to have some fun with the controversy.