Why Is Donald Trump Tweeting About ESPN? President Seems Angry About Jemele Hill Not Getting Fired

President Donald Trump sent out a tweet demanding that ESPN, the multimedia giant, “apologize for untruth.”

“ESPN is paying a really big price for its politics (and bad programming),” Trump tweeted on Thursday. “People are dumping it in RECORD numbers. Apologize for untruth!”

The president did not elaborate on his message, but it comes as ESPN is facing pressure over its handling of one of its presenters, Jemele Hill.

Hill, a co-host of ESPN’s SportsCenter, triggered a firestorm of criticism after tweeting on Monday that Trump was a “white supremacist who has largely surrounded himself [with] other white supremacists.” Hill apologized to her employer via Twitter on Thursday, noting she “regretted…painting ESPN in an unfair light.”

Among the fiercest critics was Trump’s communications director, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who on Wednesday called Hill’s words a “fireable offense.” 

While a report published Thursday by the website ThinkProgress claimed ESPN had attempted to take Hill off the air for a night to allow the controversy to blow over, the network has not heeded Sanders’s words, and Hill remains an employee.

In his tweet, Trump may have been referring to perceived hypocrisy by ESPN over its handling of Hill and another prominent employee, former Major League Baseball pitcher Curt Schilling.

ESPN fired Schilling in April 2016 after apparently mocking North Carolina’s transgender bathroom law in a Facebook post. On Wednesday, Schilling waded into the Hill debate and appeared to compare his behavior with hers. He claimed Hill had not been fired because “Disney and ESPN are fine with liberal racism vs. conservative logic.” Schilling has in the past made clear his conservative political views.

Yahoo Finance had a less conspiratorial take on the issue, noting that Hill had transgressed the company’s policy on political impartiality only once, while Schilling had multiple offenses.

All this likely won’t be enough to appease Trump, whose tweet sounded very much like those the president has used against another bête noire, CNN.

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