Controversial ESPN host Jemele Hill cried in a meeting with ESPN president John Skipper because she turned the network into a “punching bag” when the SportsCenter host came under fire for calling President Trump a “white supremacist” on Twitter earlier this month.
“It was the first time I had ever cried in a meeting. I didn’t cry because Skipper was mean or rude to me. I cried because I felt I had let him and my colleagues down,” Hill wrote in a commentary on the ESPN site The Undefeated that was published on Wednesday morning.
Hill, an outspoken liberal, admitted that “Twitter wasn’t the place to vent” but went on essentially double down on her initial comments about Trump, claiming they were about “right and wrong,” as opposed to politics.
“Donald Trump is a white supremacist who has surrounded himself with other white supremacists,” Hill wrote on Sept 11. She called him “the most ignorant, offensive president of my lifetime.” Hill also called Trump a “bigot,” and “unqualified and unfit to be president.” She even added: “If he were not white, he never would have been elected.”
The tweets caught the attention of the White House and Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said she considers the rhetoric a “fireable offense.” Trump even took to Twitter to mock ESPN and demand an apology.
“Since my tweets criticizing President Donald Trump exploded into a national story, the most difficult part for me has been watching ESPN become a punching bag and seeing a dumb narrative kept alive about the company’s political leanings,” Hill wrote.
While Hill might consider ESPN’s political leanings a “dumb narrative,” many fans and media watchdogs disagree. ESPN has terminated on-air talent in the past for right-leaning actions on social media, but has stood by Hill, who eventually tweeted that she had regret for painting ESPN in an “unfair light” but stood by her comments about the President.
“My comments on Twitter expressed my personal beliefs. 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,” Hill tweeted.
Hill wrote “that narrative is often pushed by the folks in the media who benefit most from that notion and all the attention that criticism of ESPN brings,” but said her stance is not about that.
“It’s simply indicative of just how complex things get for people in OUR position — especially if you’re a woman and a person of color,” she wrote.
“The comments on Twitter from Jemele Hill regarding the President do not represent the position of ESPN. We have addressed this with Jemele and she recognizes her actions were inappropriate,” the network said in its initial statement about the situation.
There were reports, which the network denies, that ESPN wanted to send Hill home for a day, but back-peddled when executives realized they would have to replace her with a white anchor.
Hill’s latest commentary reiterates how she feels about Trump, “As a career journalist, I can’t pretend that I don’t see what’s happening in our world.”
She continued: “I also can’t pretend as if the tone and behavior of this presidential administration is normal. And I certainly can’t pretend that racism and white supremacy aren’t real and that marginalized people don’t feel threatened and vulnerable, myself included, on a daily basis.”
The SportsCenter host said she doesn’t know when her duties as a sports broadcaster end and her “rights as a person begin,” but said “we’re clearly living in a time of blurred lines.”
Hill brought up the latest series of controversies regarding Trump and sports, calling the president’s remarks about NFL players “inflammatory” and saying, “This is not a time for retreating comfortably to a corner.”
Despite her obvious disdain for the president, Hill said she probably needs “to take some classes about how to exercise better self-control on Twitter,” and admitted that she learned a lesson in the process.