Quora: Was ESPN's Jemele Hill's Tweet About Trump OK?

Jemele Hill
ESPN presenter Jemele Hill at the Why Are We Still Talking About This? Women & Sport in 2016 panel at Liberty Theater, New York City, September 29, 2016. D Dipasupil/Getty

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Answer from Michael Barnard, Follow US Politics closely:

Was Jemele Hill a "SportsCenter" co-host right to use her ESPN post to make political statements labeling Trump a "white supremacist"?

Irrelevant, yes and no.

First off, what did she actually do? She tweeted. This isn't using her 'ESPN post to make political statements', this is someone with an ESPN job, tweeting. Do you see ESPN anywhere in this tweet?

Do you see "Official ESPN source" anywhere in this tweet?

It's irrelevant as she has had the twitter account since 2009 under her personal name. I'm sure her Twitter profile has changed a few times since then as she took various jobs. This was someone sounding off on twitter, and furthermore, a random D-list minor celebrity who is a talking head about sports. It's not like she's the editor of the New York Times. Yeesh.

Yes, she's right to use her minor celebrity. As a black woman in the USA, she has every right to call it as she sees it. She's apparently well known enough that people saw it, including Trump himself. Freedom of speech applies to black women too, don't forget.

No. Regardless of anything else, she's part of an advertising-fueled entertainment machine which undoubtedly has social media policies which have now been carefully explained to her. Her careful restatement that it was her personal opinion and that it's unfortunate that it reflected on ESPN shows that she understands she's a piece of a money-making machine, not a deeply principled public philosopher (and that's just fine, by the way).


The much better question is whether Trump and his press secretary are impinging on the spirit, if not the letter, of the First Amendment to the US Constitution. While it starts 'Congress…', it's generally understood that it's about the government of the USA not stomping on citizens' freedom of speech.

When the President attacks your employer for something you said as a private citizen, putting your livelihood at risk, that's a breach of decorum and tradition. When his press secretary, standing at the White House behind the official podium in front of the US flag, says that Hill should be fired, that's a breach.

Hill is not in the wrong here except in the minor way of likely breaching the social media provisions of her contract with ESPN. Trump and his Press Secretary are definitely off the reservation.

Was Jemele Hill a "SportsCenter" co-host right to use her ESPN post to make political statements labeling Trump a "white supremacist"? originally appeared on Quora - the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world. You can follow Quora on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. More questions:

Quora: Was ESPN's Jemele Hill's Tweet About Trump OK? | Opinion