HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Controversy continues to swirl around Jemele Hill, the ESPN anchor suspended on Monday for two weeks for making political statements on social media.
Hill, an African-American co-host of the 6 p.m. broadcast of “SportsCenter,” received backlash last month after referring to President Donald Trump as a “white supremacist” in a series of tweets that referenced the president’s comments about a deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Trump later suggested that NFL players be fired for not standing during the national anthem. In tweets on Sunday, Hill targeted Jerry Jones after the Dallas Cowboys owner stated that players who disrespect the flag would not play for his team.
Hill suggested on Twitter that fans who disagree with Jones should boycott the team’s advertisers and not buy the team’s merchandise.
“Cowboys have a huge national following,” she wrote in one of a series of tweets. “Lot of black & brown folks are Cowboys fans. What if they turned their backs on them?”
She clarified Monday she was not calling for an NFL boycott.
ESPN said in a statement Monday that Hill had acknowledged “letting her colleagues and company down” with the Trump 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,” the statement said.
Hill had called the president “a white supremacist who has largely surrounded himself w/ other white supremacists.” She wrote that he was “the most ignorant, offensive president of my lifetime.” She called him a bigot and said it was the height of white privilege to ignore his white supremacy because it wasn’t a threat.
“Well, it’s a threat to me,” she typed.
Hill did not immediately reply to a request for comment on her suspension. Since the controversy began Hill has been the target of racially charged and profane attacks on social media.
Before she was suspended, Hill responded Sunday to a Twitter follower who suggested that NFL players would learn a lesson about “getting fired for not doing what your boss requires you to do.”
“Because if we did everything the boss said, Americans would still be dying of tuberculosis in factories,” she replied.
This morning, Trump went on the attack against Hill and the network, tweeting that “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!”
CNN Money, reporting Trump’s tweet, called it “misleading,” and noted that while ESPN subscribers are down – to 90 million – “the vast majority of U.S. homes continue to pay for cable, including ESPN.”
Birmingham Times staffer Nick Patterson contributed to this report.