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It started Monday evening when the SportsCenter host got in a Twitter discussion about President Donald Trump. The hour-long back and forth started with Hill saying that Trump “is a white supremacist who has largely surrounded himself with other white supremacists,” and that “his rise is a direct result of white supremacy. Period.”
She went on to mention the president’s remarks about the Central Park Five in the late ’80s, and wondered how voters could be upset about Benghazi but unbothered by the way he spoke about those boys in the media.
Donald Trump is a white supremacist who has largely surrounded himself w/ other white supremacists.— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) September 11, 2017
Trump is the most ignorant, offensive president of my lifetime. His rise is a direct result of white supremacy. Period.— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) September 11, 2017
No the media doesn't make it a threat. It IS a threat. He has empowered white supremacists (see: Charlottesville).— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) September 12, 2017
And it's funny how you cling to Benghazi but I bet you didn't give one thought to what Trump said about the Central Park 5— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) September 12, 2017
You yell about Benghazi but I bet you didn't care at all about him having to settle the largest racial housing discrimination case in NYC— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) September 12, 2017
ESPN stayed quiet about the tweets until Tuesday afternoon, when it eventually released a statement via its PR Twitter account. The network wrote that Hill’s comments “do not represent the position of ESPN,” and assured viewers that they have “addressed this with Jemele.”
ESPN Statement on Jemele Hill: pic.twitter.com/3kfexjx9zQ— ESPN PR (@ESPNPR) September 12, 2017
Kaepernick wasn’t satisfied with the gesture, though, and tweeted his support for Hill late Tuesday evening.
We are with you @jemelehill ✊🏾— Colin Kaepernick (@Kaepernick7) September 13, 2017
“We are with you,” he wrote.
The social media firestorm comes as ESPN is criticized on the right for harboring openly liberal TV hosts who often unpack the intersection of sports and politics in debate-like shows. Kaepernick, and his ongoing protests of the national anthem during his tenure as an NFL QB, have been at the center of many ESPN on-air debates.
Christine Friar is a writer and editor in New York who focuses on streaming entertainment and internet culture. Her work has appeared in the Awl, the Fader, New York Magazine, Paper Magazine, Vogue, Elle, and more.