ESPN anchor Jemele Hill has been suspended by the network for two weeks over her comments on Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.
The controversy erupted on 9 October when Hill, 41, tweeted that Jones had “created a problem” for his “black players” with his comments on the “Take A Knee” controversy. Earlier in October, Jones, 74, stated that the NFL does not “tolerate [players] disrespecting the flag”.
Jones added: “We know that there is a serious debate in this country about those issues, but there is no question in my mind that the National Football League and the Dallas Cowboys are going to stand up for the flag. So we’re clear.”
Hill, who co-hosts ESPN’s SC6, reacted to Jones’ remarks on Twitter, writing: “Jerry Jones also has created a problem for his players, specifically the black ones. If they don’t kneel, some will see them as sellouts..”
Jerry Jones also has created a problem for his players, specifically the black ones. If they don’t kneel, some will see them as sellouts.
— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) October 9, 2017
The tweet attracted a mix of support and criticism, prompting Hill to defend herself. In a string of tweets, Hill told her 788,000 followers: “Jerry has turned this into them choosing football over the community they represent and that isn’t right…
“I think the Cowboy fans — the paying customers — need to pick up this fight. Don’t look to Dez or Dak. YOU do it… By drawing a line in the sand, Jerry put his players under more scrutiny and threw them under the bus… If the rationale behind JJ’s stance is keeping the fanbase happy, make him see that he is underestimated how all of his fanbase feels.”
ESPN swiftly took action by temporarily removing Hill from the air. A spokesperson said in a statement: “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.”
Hill received immense support from her fans with the hashtag #StandWithJemele immediately trending. Reverend Al Sharpton responded to Hill’s suspension with anger, tweeting: “ESPN’s suspension of Jemele Hill is an outrage and should NOT go unanswered. ESPN and advertisers will hear from us!”
ESPN’s suspension of Jemele Hill is an outrage and should NOT go unanswered. ESPN and advertisers will hear from us!
— Reverend Al Sharpton (@TheRevAl) October 9, 2017
Rosie O’Donnell also offered support, adding: “We are with you @jemelehill yes we are #systemicRACISM.”
In September, Hill came under fire for her tweets about President Donald Trump, writing: “Donald Trump is a white supremacist who has surrounded himself with other white supremacists.”
The “Take A Knee” controversy was started to support NFL player Colin Kaepernick, who bends the knee during the national anthem to campaign against police brutality against black people in America. Trump added fuel to the fire when he labelled players who kneel as “sons of b*****s” who should be fired from the league.
ESPN’s Statement on Jemele Hill: pic.twitter.com/JkVoBVz7lv
— ESPN PR (@ESPNPR) October 9, 2017