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White House: ESPN could justify firing anchor for Trump tweets

By The Associated Press

This article was originally published September 13, 2017 at 5:29 p.m. Updated September 14, 2017 at 4:30 a.m.


This Feb. 3, 2017, file photo showing Jemele Hill attending ESPN: The Party 2017 in Houston, Texas.

BRISTOL, Conn. — White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Wednesday that sports anchor Jemele Hill could justifiably be fired from ESPN for tweets calling President Donald Trump a "white supremacist" and "a bigot."

"I think that's one of the more outrageous comments that anyone could make, and certainly something that I think is a fireable offense by ESPN," Sanders said.

Sanders said she was not sure whether the president was aware of Hill's comments.

On Monday night, in a series of exchanges with other Twitter users, Hill said, "Donald Trump is a white supremacist who has largely surrounded himself w/ other white supremacists."

Hill, an African-American co-host of the 6 p.m. broadcast of SportsCenter, also added that "Trump is the most ignorant, offensive president of my lifetime. His rise is a direct result of white supremacy. Period."

In another tweet, she said, "Donald Trump is a bigot" and went on to criticize his supporters, adding "The height of white privilege is being able to ignore his white supremacy, because it's of no threat to you. Well, it's a threat to me."

ESPN distanced itself from Hill's tweets Tuesday.

"The comments on Twitter from Jemele Hill regarding the president do not represent the position of ESPN," the network tweeted from its public relations department's account. "We have addressed this with Jemele and she recognizes her actions were inappropriate."

Disney-owned ESPN did not elaborate on any possible punishment for Hill, and she was on SportsCenter as usual Tuesday and Wednesday.

While many Twitter users called for Hill to be fired, unemployed NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick expressed his support, tweeting "We are with you @jemelehill."

Kaepernick, who remains unsigned after opting out of his contract with the San Francisco 49ers, received plenty of criticism — and support — after kneeling during the national anthem before games last season to protest police brutality.

When asked why prominent African-Americans were criticizing Trump, Sanders said she could not speak for Hill and said the president has met with respected African-American leaders like U.S. Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, the only black Republican in the Senate.

"He's committed to working with them to bring the country together," Sanders said. "I think that's where we need to be focused — not on outrageous statements like that one."

The National Association of Black Journalists said in a statement that it "supports Hill's First Amendment rights on all matters of discussion, within and outside the world of sports, as they do not impinge on her duties as a host and commentator."

Three weeks ago, ESPN said it pulled broadcaster Robert Lee, who is Asian-American, from the Virginia football season opener because of violence in Charlottesville, Va. The violence broke out at a rally to protest the decision to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.


Comments on: White House: ESPN could justify firing anchor for Trump tweets

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Displaying 1 - 5 of 5 total comments

Tigermule says... September 13, 2017 at 5:51 p.m.

her job is safe. doubtful the brass at ESPN will do much about it. maybe a slap on the wrist with a wink,wink, nod.

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wildblueyonder says... September 14, 2017 at 10:35 a.m.

ESPN has become political, it sucks!

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hurricane46 says... September 14, 2017 at 12:44 p.m.

Can the WH fire Sanders for being an idiot?

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LRDawg says... September 14, 2017 at 3:19 p.m.

I second that motion Hurricane....Trump will be done with her shortly

( | suggest removal )

mrcharles says... September 15, 2017 at 11:11 a.m.

To her defense look what she has to work with. A rev Jim from taxi.

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