ESPN personality and former “SportsCenter” anchor Jemele Hill, who has been at the center of the political firestorm at the network accused by many conservatives of having a liberal slant, revisited her controversy on an appearance on “The View” on Wednesday.
Hill started a frenzy with her September tweets critical of President Donald Trump calling him and his supporters white supremacists and saying that he is unfit for office. These tweets were posted during the NFL’s anthem-kneeling controversy and in the wake of the white supremacist rallies that took place in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Donald Trump is a white supremacist who has largely surrounded himself w/ other white supremacists.
— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) September 11, 2017
He is unqualified and unfit to be president. He is not a leader. And if he were not white, he never would have been elected
— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) September 12, 2017
ESPN issued a statement condemning Hill’s tweets as inappropriate and not representative of the network. Hill was eventually suspended for two weeks for a second violation of the network’s social media policy.
Hill’s tweets also prompted White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders to call for ESPN to fire Hill, an official stance from the Trump administration to stifle speech the White House does not agree with.
During her Wednesday appearance on “The View,” Hill partially stood by her tweets, though hedged on painting Trump’s supporters with a broad brush.
"I did not expect in that moment that it was going to become what it became." @jemelehill discuses her controversial tweet calling Pres. Donald Trump as a "white supremacist" after the violence in Charlottesville: "I still stand by what I said." https://t.co/f8u2wc159S pic.twitter.com/faws5czVPy
— The View (@TheView) February 21, 2018
“I still stand by what I said,” Hill said. “I don’t think that his supporters are white supremacists. What I would say though is they have the benefit of privilege to be able to distance and disassociate themselves from certain issues.”
Hill also addressed the second social media violation that led to her suspension, a tweet that suggested that fans boycott advertisers of the Dallas Cowboys because of owner Jerry Jones’ stance that players on his team would not be allowed to kneel during the national anthem.
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
“No, I probably wouldn’t do that again,” Hill said. “I wasn’t specifically calling for a boycott of the NFL or Jerry Jones.
“Let’s keep it 100. My employer’s in business with the NFL. Some of those same advertisers that Jerry Jones has, they also are advertisers of ESPN. So I very much understood why I was suspended.”
In January, Hill left “SportsCenter” to focus on work with the “The Undefeated,” an ESPN site focused on race and culture issues as they relate to sports.
Michael Smith, Hill’s former “SportsCenter” co-host, has since been critical of the network for how it handled their iteration of the network’s flagship news and highlights show.