Jemele Hill, who co-hosts “SportsCenter” on ESPN, called President Trump a “white supremacist” in a series of tweets Monday night.
ESPN publicly scolded her, but supporters — including Colin Kaepernick — have defended Hill for speaking her mind. Detractors, though, want her fired.
The tweets about Trump came after Hill criticized Kid Rock, who accused the media and the “extreme left” of labeling him a racist. At a concert last year, the musician reportedly yelled “(expletive) Colin Kaepernick.”
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“He loves black people so much that he pandered to racists by using a flag that unquestionably stands for dehumanizing black people,” Hill tweeted about Kid Rock Monday night.
Responding to critics of that initial tweet led to a discussion about Trump and white supremacy. “Donald Trump is a white supremacist who has largely surrounded himself w/ other white supremacists,” Hill tweeted.
Then she wrote: “Trump is the most ignorant, offensive president of my lifetime. His rise is a direct result of white supremacy. Period.”
She kept going: “He has surrounded himself with white supremacists — no they are not “alt right” — and you want me to believe he isn’t a white supremacist?”
One last thought: “He is unqualified and unfit to be president. He is not a leader. And if he were not white, he never would have been elected.”
On Tuesday, ESPN reprimanded Hill in a tweet of its own.
“The comments on Twitter from Jemele Hill regarding the President do not represent the position of ESPN,” the network said in a statement. “We have addressed this with Jemele and she recognizes her actions were inappropriate.”
After ESPN slapped Hill’s wrist, support poured in from the sports world - Kaepernick, Dwyane Wade, Reggie Miller, Steve Nash among her defenders - and Hollywood.
Hill’s critics wondered why ESPN didn’t fire her like it did last year after baseball analyst and former All-Star pitcher Curt Schilling made derogatory comments about transgender people on Facebook.
According to The Daily Beast, Hill said at a conference in June that mixing sports and politics are unavoidable in today’s hot political climate. She is known for not shying away when current events and sports intersect.
“Sports have always been political,” she said. “The athletes are dragging us here ... I didn’t ask Colin Kaepernick to kneel. He did it on his own. So, was I supposed to act like he didn’t?”
Previous ESPN policy encouraged its journalists to refrain from “political editorializing, personal attacks or ‘drive-by’ comments” aimed at Trump and Hillary Clinton during the campaign, the Daily Beast reports.
After Trump won, the network revamped its policy, allowing commentators like Hill to express their views if the topic was “related to a current issue impacting sports,” writes the Daily Beast.