WASHINGTON, U.S. - ESPN host Jemele Hill, who co-hosts SC6 with Michael Smith caused outrage in the country after she lashed out at U.S. President Donald Trump in a series of Twitter posts.
Hill wrote on Twitter, “Donald Trump is a white supremacist who has largely surrounded himself w/ other white supremacists.”
She went on to call Trump “the most ignorant, offensive president of my lifetime,” and said “his rise is the direct result of white supremacy. Period.”
The comments, that quickly sparked a retort from the White House, divided the internet too.
On Wednesday, addressing a press briefing, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, “I think that’s one of the more outrageous comments that anyone could make, and certainly something that I think is a fireable offense by ESPN.”
On being questioned why an influential African American sportscaster might make such a comment, Sanders said, “I’m not going to speak for that individual, but I know that the president has met, again, with people like Senator [Tim] Scott, who are highly respected leaders in the African-American community.”
The same day, Scott, a Republican from South Carolina, met with Trump at the White House.
Reports noted that the discussion was in part about the president’s controversial comments following last month’s white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that sparked deadly violence.
Following the violent rally, Trump said at a news conference that there was “blame of both sides” for the violence.
Trump’s comments were noted and criticized globally, and then, Scott had said that the president’s “moral authority” had been “compromised.”
However, on Wednesday, Sanders defended Trump and said the President is “committed to working with [leaders of the black community] to bring the country together. I think that’s where we need to be focused, not on outrageous statements like” the one by Hill.
Earlier, ESPN released a statement and said Hill’s comments about Trump “do not represent the position” of the cable network.
It noted, “We have addressed this with Jemele and she recognizes her actions were inappropriate.”
In recent years, ESPN has faced the heat from conservatives who allege that the network has introduced liberal political bias into its sports programming.
A report on Fox News on Wednesday, titled, ‘ESPN’s double standard shows when hosts speak out,’ pointed to ESPN’s firing of analyst and former professional baseball pitcher Curt Schilling in May 2016 over a demeaning anti-transgender Facebook post by him.
The Facebook post reportedly came in response to North Carolina’s anti-LGBT bathroom law and showed a meme with a man dressed in revealing women’s clothing.
Schilling said in his post, “A man is a man no matter what they call themselves. I don’t care what they are, who they sleep with, men’s room was designed for the penis, women’s not so much. Now you need laws telling us differently? Pathetic.”
ESPN had then called itself an “an inclusive company” and had said that Schilling’s conduct was “unacceptable,” announcing his termination.
Reports also pointed out that the channel recently pulled an Asian-American football broadcaster from a college football game at University of Virginia because his name was Robert Lee, same as the Confederate general.
On Wednesday, reports noted that nearly a decade ago, Hill was suspended when she compared Boston Celtics fans to Nazis in a blog on ESPN’s website in 2008.
Hill is an outspoken liberal and even has photos of herself with President Obama pinned to her Twitter feed.