ESPN Public Editor Jim Brady posted on Twitter Friday that President Donald Trump has “done a lot to make a case against himself,” after ESPN host Jemele Hill called him a white supremacist.
Hill sparked controversy Monday when she tweeted: “Donald Trump is a white supremacist who has largely surrounded himself w/ other white supremacists.”
Donald Trump is a white supremacist who has largely surrounded himself w/ other white supremacists.
— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) September 11, 2017
Brady addressed the issue in a column on Friday where he admonished Hill for not following company guidelines, but left the content of the tweet untouched, calling it an opinion. Brady later defended that decision on Twitter when asked about it.
“I didn’t weigh in because, despite the protests of many, I still believe this is an opinion and not a fact. Respect those who disagree,” wrote Brady on Twitter. “Investigate the claim of whether Donald Trump is a ‘white supremacist’? I think he’s done a lot to make a case against himself.”
Investigate the claim of whether Donald Trump is a “white supremacist”? I think he’s done a lot to make a case against himself.
— ESPN Public Editor (@ESPNPublicEd) September 16, 2017
Hill’s comments brought scrutiny to the network from conservative media and right-wing circles who have in the past accused ESPN of having a liberal bent.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders addressed Hill’s comments Wednesday at a press briefing.
“That’s one of the more outrageous comments that anyone could make and certainly something that I think is a fireable offense by ESPN,” said Sanders.
Trump himself attacked ESPN on Twitter Friday over the comment.
“ESPN is paying a really big price for its politics (and bad programming). People are dumping it in RECORD numbers. Apologize for untruth!” wrote Trump.
ESPN is paying a really big price for its politics (and bad programming). People are dumping it in RECORD numbers. Apologize for untruth!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 15, 2017
Hill released a statement Wednesday clarifying that she spoke only for herself and not ESPN.
“My comments on Twitter expressed my personal beliefs,” Hill said. “My regret is that my comments and the public way I made them painted ESPN in an unfair light. My respect for the company and my colleagues remains unconditional.”
Though Hill’s statement didn’t apologize for what she said, ESPN accepted “the apology.”
“Jemele has a right to her personal opinions, but not to publicly share them on a platform that implies that she was in any way speaking on behalf of ESPN. She has acknowledged that her tweets crossed that line and has apologized for doing so. We accept her apology,” read a statement from ESPN.
Internally, ESPN emphasized the social media policy it has and said that it was important that ESPN remains a journalistic organization.
“ESPN is not a political organization. Where sports and politics intersect, no one is told what view they must express,” read an email from ESPN President John Skipper to staff Friday afternoon. “We have social media policies which require people to understand that social platforms are public and their comments on them will reflect on ESPN. At a minimum, comments should not be inflammatory or personal. We had a violation of those standards in recent days and our handling of this is a private matter.”