On Monday afternoon, ESPN announced that they are suspending Sportscenter co-host Jemele Hill for two weeks due to “a second violation of our social media guidelines.”
Hill posted several tweets on Sunday advocating for a boycott of NFL advertisers. This decision comes after the ESPN host called President Donald Trump a “white supremacist.”
“Jemele Hill has been suspended for two weeks for a second violation of our social media guidelines. She previously acknowledged letting her colleagues and company down with an impulsive tweet. In the aftermath, all employees were reminded of how individual tweets may reflect negatively on ESPN and that such actions would have consequences. Hence this decision,” read a statement from ESPN.
On Twitter, Hill wrote in response to a user about what more they could do outside of boycotting the NFL, “How about not patronizing the advertisers who support the Cowboys? You can watch and do that, right?”
This play always work. Change happens when advertisers are impacted. If you feel strongly about JJ's statement, boycott his advertisers. https://t.co/LFXJ9YQe74— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) October 9, 2017
She continued on about Dallas Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones’ decision to bench players who disrespect the national anthem. “If you strongly reject what Jerry Jones said, the key is his advertisers. Don’t place the burden squarely on the players.”
Hill then attempted to clarify her earlier tweets saying she’s not advocating for a boycott of NFL advertisers.
Just so we're clear: I'm not advocating a NFL boycott. But an unfair burden has been put on players in Dallas & Miami w/ anthem directives.— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) October 9, 2017
However, by then, it was too late. Now, as a result of the suspension, Hill’s co-host, Michael Smith reportedly sat out Monday’s episode of SC6.
In September, ESPN disavowed comments that Hill made about Trump being a “white supremacist.” Hill later apologized, not for the comments, but for getting ESPN roped into the publicity mess. ESPN was roundly criticized by conservative viewers for letting Hill off the hook, but fired former ESPN baseball analyst Curt Schilling for posting a meme about the transgender bathroom debate.
Since the 2016 election, ESPN has been accused of politicizing their broadcasts and injecting politics into their coverage of sports. According to Deep Root Analytics, there was a 10 to 19 percent drop in Republican viewership of ESPN. It was enough of a drop in ratings for longtime ESPN anchor Linda Cohn to speak out about it.
“I felt that the old school viewers were put in a corner and not appreciated with all these other changes,” she said on WABC’s “Bernie and Sid show.” “And they forgot their core. You can never forget your core and be grateful for your core group.”