The decision has further cemented ESPN as the villain in their battles.
On Tuesday, ESPN host Jemele Hill was suspended for two weeks for violating the network’s social media policy with a tweet proposing that angry NFL fans could always boycott to be heard. However, many in the world of sports and celebrity were quick to come to the often-political host’s defense in a time when “sticking to sports” doesn’t feel like an acceptable course of action.
The offending tweets came in response to outrage at Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones’ ultimatum that he would bench players who didn’t stand for the national anthem.
She clarified her comments the next day, though it’s not known if that act was voluntary or subject to network pressure.
ESPN offered a brief (and widely criticized) announcement stating that Hill had been punished for what they deemed her second violation of the company’s practices, using her public statement following the first offense against her in the curt missive. Further, the network makes no effort in specifying how exactly her statement violates the policy, only that it does.
Her peers in sports reporting, as well as socially conscious athletes, were quick to come to her defense and offer their disappointment in ESPN’s decision over what many saw as an innocuous series of tweets.
Sportscenter host Kenny Mayne also spoke up in defense of his coworker following Trump’s needling.
TNT NBA reporter David Aldridge also crossed network lines to stand up for Hill’s right to say what she did on her Twitter account.
Naturally, Donald Trump — who refuses to let this discussion be about anything other than him, — chimed in with criticisms of both Hill and ESPN.
Hill’s cohort at ESPN, NBA analyst Jalen Rose was quick to come to her defense in response to the president’s barb.
Perhaps most telling wasn’t a tweet, but the act of her studio co-host of ESPN’s “The Six,” Michael Smith, who decided to boycott in his own manner, sitting out last night’s broadcast without his partner at his side. He’s slated to return tonight to resume hosting duties.
Maybe it’s just the context, but her previous offense, a far more divisive tweet labeling Trump a white supremacist, makes her recent statements on Twitter seem almost quaint. In case you forgot:
ESPN has offered no further comment on the matter since tweeting out their official statement.