ESPN suspend anti-Trump anchor for two weeks for comments she made on Twitter
Given that Donald Trump was a polemical figure even before he decided to run in the 2016 Presidential election, it's unlikely that anyone was surprised when he became more divisive once elected as the 45th president of the United States. In fact, his commitment to making outlandish statements, disregard for political correctness and overzealous use of his thumbs on Twitter has provided plenty of ammunition for those opposed to his administration.
Critics took particular offence at his reaction to the tragedy at Charlottesville in August after he failed to condemn the actions of the neo-nazi groups involved. After asserting that "many sides" were to blame for the tragedy, Trump continued to yo-yo between denouncing prejudice writ large, saying "racism is evil and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs," and blatantly refusing to criticise the actions of the alt-right groups who atavistically wielded torches and shouted racially insensitive statements.
One such critic is ESPN anchor, Jemele Hill who found herself embroiled in a highly publicised scandal after she called Donald Trump a "white supremacist" on Twitter last month. It was a move which the White House Press Secretary, Sarah Sanders deemed as a "fireable offence" and "one of the more outrageous comments that anyone could make."
While Hill wasn't formally disciplined for the statements that she made about Trump, the controversial host has been suspended for two weeks when she called on people to boycott the advertisers of the Dallas Cowboys on Twitter.
On Sunday, Hill took to Twitter to critique Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones who said that any player who "disrespects the flag" cannot play. This, of course, was in reference to NFL player protests which take place during the national anthem. She wrote:
"This play always work. Change happens when advertisers are impacted. If you feel strongly about JJ's statement, boycott his advertisers
"If you strongly reject what Jerry Jones said, the key is his advertisers. Don't place the burden squarely on the players.
"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.
"If fans really are that upset about what JJ & Stephen Ross have done, don't call the players sellouts, but you're watching every Sunday."
ESPN promptly responded to the tweets, with a statement which read:
“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 much individual tweets may reflect negatively on ESPN and that such action would have consequences. Hence this decision.”
Naturally, people were outraged. Rev. Al Sharpton wrote, "ESPN's suspension of Jemele Hill is an outrage and should NOT go unanswered. ESPN and advertisers will hear from us!" while Mark Hughes corroborated, I'm boycotting
@ESPN for this decision targeting @jemelehill's free speech & her advocacy for the free speech of athletes. #ShameOnESPN"
Whilst Hill has not issued a response to her suspension, she later expressed regret over she tweets she made about President Trump. "My comments on Twitter expressed my personal beliefs," she asserted last month. "My regret is that my comments and the public way I made them painted ESPN in an unfair light. My respect for the company and my colleagues remains unconditional."
However, it's apparent that Donald Trump has not chose to forgive and forget. Following the suspension, he took to his favourite social media platform to say:
"With Jemele Hill at the mike, it is no wonder ESPN ratings have "tanked," in fact, tanked so badly it is the talk of the industry!"
It remains to be seen if Jemele Hill will issue a response.