Donald Trump Attacks ESPN’s Jemele Hill After She Gets Suspended For Tweets About Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones

Posted On : 10/10/2017

Following ESPN’s two-week suspension of journalist Jemele Hill on Monday, Donald Trump took to Twitter this morning to insult Hill and the network’s ratings. He criticized Hill’s professional abilities as a journalist and effectively blamed the outspoken sportscaster for ESPN’s poor performance.

“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,” Trump wrote.

The suspension came after Hill criticized Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones for threatening to bench any of his players who take a knee during the national anthem–a tactic that Trump approved of wholeheartedly. Hill said in a series of tweets that Jones had put the Black players in a bad position because their fans may see them as “sellouts” if they comply with the owner’s mandate. She suggested that fans should boycott advertisers instead.

“No. Jerry has turned this into them choosing football over the community they represent and that isn’t right,” Hill said in one of a series of tweets. “…If you strongly reject what Jerry Jones said, the key is his advertisers. Don’t place the burden squarely on the players.”

Why Did ESPN Suspend Hill?

ESPN justified Hill’s suspension saying that this was the second time she violated their social media policy. The first reprimand came in September after Hill tweeted that Trump was a White supremacist, which the network said reflected negatively on them. The White House even called for her termination. ESPN did not explain specifically which social media policy Hill broke, but they issued a statement.

“Jemele Hill has been suspended for two weeks for a second violation of our social media guidelines,” ESPN said. “She previously acknowledged letting her colleagues and company down with an impulsive 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.”

Hill was very clear in her tweets that she was not calling for an NFL boycott, but many speculate that the decision to take her off the air was more about money than exercising free speech regarding systematic racism. The Hill reported that ESPN pays the NFL nearly $2 billion a year for the rights to exclusively air “Monday Night Football.” The contract doesn’t expire until 2012.

Is Trump A Bully?

Some say that Trump’s intimate involvement in the NFL’s handling of the national anthem protests amounts to bullying. He implored owners to fire any “son of a b*tch” who takes a knee and tweeted praise of Jerry Jones for seemingly following his recommendation. Curiously, Trump is now calling for changes in the tax law to punish the NFL for allowing protests to continue.

“Why is the NFL getting massive tax breaks while at the same time disrespecting our Anthem, Flag and Country? Change tax law!” Trump tweeted Tuesday morning.

Whatever the motives for Hill’s suspension–and there seem to be many–we should not overlook the fact that she is a journalist and American citizen with First Amendment rights. She is being silenced by ESPN, a member of the press. Jemele Hill is being openly attacked by the President of the United States with no one holding him accountable for his actions. She is a Black woman standing up for the rights of Black men (and others) to use their platforms to protest the ill-treatment of Black people in this country. Who will stand with her?

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