originally wrote this article back in September but figured this would be a good time to bring it back up all things considered what went on today #IStandwithJemele *
Let me pose a question: if other people are critical of someone due to their racism and you are also critical of that person because of said racism does that make you culpable of losing your job if other people aren’t held to those standards of making them lose their jobs?
I know that sounds like a mouthful but that’s essentially the gist of the controversy with Jemele Hill, a well-known ESPN analyst and sports media personality when she recently called President Donald Trump a “white supremacist” on Twitter.
She’s received backlash from the White House to the President’s supporters, and a few media representatives who feel she was out of line. Usually, this would mean the death sentence of a person’s career. How often do you see a sports journalist call out a President for being a racist? You would think Jemele Hill would have lost her job by now. However, that is not the case. She’s still on Sportscenter. She still has her career. She’s still supported by her colleagues.
Maybe it’s due to the fact that ESPN needs Jemele Hill more than she needs them.
Lately, the “worldwide leader of sports news” have been trying to distance themselves from Ms. Hill’s comments, stating that she was out of line.
“In light of recent events, we need to remind ourselves that we are a journalistic organization and that we should not do anything that undermines that position,” John Skipper, President of ESPN, said in a memo released to his employees last Friday.
It’s a classic excuse. “Stick to sports” as they say. Apparently, athletes and sports journalists are not allowed to speak on social issues and just stick to the genre they are familiar with.
That is crap.
Jemele Hill has always been known for holding on to her strong beliefs and opinions on sports and politics. Her colleagues have stated that she’s headstrong and never has been known for holding her tongue to something she knows in her heart that it’s wrong.
“I have known Jemele Hill a long time,” said NY Daily News columnist and former ESPN radio personality Mike Lupica in a column ” [ever] since the first time she sat down on our ESPN show “The Sports Reporters.” I read her newspaper column before that. I know how strongly and passionately she holds her beliefs, whether you like them or not. She is one of the best people I know, and one of the best people they have at her network, one paid for her opinions. None of this may factor into your side of this conversation, especially if you’re one of the people coming for her now. But it does mine.”
Jemele Hill has been making a name for herself long before her opinions on the President appeared on Twitter. She started off as a well-known journalist working for the Detroit Free Press and eventually came aboard as part of ESPN’s flagship programs such as “First Take” and “Numbers Never Lie” which later on became known as “His & Hers” (named after her podcast with fellow esteemed sports journalist Michael Smith). Like her colleagues, she follows the blueprint of pop-culture references and sports talk from legendary ESPN personality Stuart Scott.
“Scott stayed true to himself so that me and Jemele could stay true to ourselves,” Michael Smith said in an interview with The Ringer.
Since her comments on the President, Hill has gained even bigger notoriety and support from a broader audience and fellow colleagues. If ESPN thought that they could intimidate her and force an apology to the President, they were definitely mistaken.
“I’m behind Jemele,” Kevin Durant said. “I support her. That’s what it’s all about. She’s standing up for what she believes in. I’m with it.”
Yes, THAT Kevin Durant, who just won a championship with the Golden State Warriors and is arguably one of the most famous athletes on the planet is backing Jemele Hill.
“I enjoyed how brilliantly Jemele checkmated her bosses,” Bill Simmons, well-known sports media personality, former ESPN employee, and founder of the Ringer. “She knew ESPN couldn’t punish her for speaking candidly, as a black woman, about a president whose pattern of behavior toward women and minorities speaks for itself. She used her platform and it worked. Now, she has a higher profile than she did three days ago. She seems more fearless and genuine than she did three days ago. She doubled down on a fan base that already liked her and openly shunned the other side. And she flipped her relationship with ESPN — now, the company needs Jemele Hill more than she needs the company.”
Jemele Hill isn’t going anywhere. She may have irked the President of the United States but she has the backing and support of numerous fans who agree with her opinions. President Trump has endured numerous backlash for his attitude, his policies, and how he’s handled his presidency since taking office earlier this year. His comments on the recent racial attacks in Charlottesville, Virginia has received criticism from both Democrats and Republicans.
Keep in mind, an innocent woman was murdered by a white supremacist and he failed to condemn that person.
Hill let her voice be heard and she’s not backing down regardless of how Skipper wants her and her colleagues to stray away from it. Even if she’s fired, Hill will continue to thrive and find more work. Meanwhile, ESPN is losing viewership and subscribers and are looking for ways to attract an audience. If they fire her, that’s a huge loss on them.
Jemele Hill doesn’t need ESPN. ESPN needs her.