Jemele Hill, sports journalist for ESPN, stirred up controversy on Monday night after taking to Twitter to call Donald Trump a white supremacist, a “bigot” and “unqualified.” Her comments drew mass attention all across the political spectrum; angering conservatives with her blunt and strong views towards the president.
Although criticizing the president is something that happens constantly and is protected under freedom of speech, Hill’s comments reached executive agenda. During a daily White House press briefing, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders acknowledged Hill’s tweets; saying, “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.”
In a statement after Hill’s tweets, the network said that the comments “do not represent the position of ESPN. We have addressed this with Jemele and she recognizes her actions were inappropriate.”
Hill herself apologized on Twitter to her employers, saying, “My comments on Twitter expressed my personal beliefs. 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.”
Despite the journalist and the network settling the conflict, it still did not seem to be enough for Donald Trump. On Friday morning, he took to Twitter to express his dissatisfaction with the opinion against him; saying, “ESPN is paying a really big price for its politics (and bad programming). People are dumping it in RECORD numbers. Apologize for untruth!”
It is no secret that Trump is incapable of accepting criticism gracefully; his Twitter account holds remnants of various conflicts created from others sharing their negative opinions of him. However, Trump and his White House administration do not seem to realize the dangers of a leader of the country and its executive branch attempting to dictate criticism or punish those who have expressed an opinion that may not have been preferred by the president.
Trump and his White House administration do not seem to realize the dangers of a leader of the country and its executive branch attempting to dictate criticism or punish those who have expressed an opinion that may not have been preferred by the president.
To simplify: Donald Trump and his administration legitimately demanded an apology and implied punishment for someone simply speaking their mind against him. That is the leader of our country. That is our reality.
Pursuing this further, we should not be acting as though Hill’s ideas are far-fetched and radical. Donald Trump tends to surround himself with open white supremacists, some of whom he has even appointed to public positions. His entire life has been defined by white privilege, although he remains blind to the power granted to him for simply being Caucasian, and instead plays victim when people of color note this. He has blamed the violent and vile Charlottesville riot on “both sides” and equivocated when it comes to Nazis, while failing to satisfyingly condemn those truly involved. He is officially endorsed by the KKK; an organization who has stated that they share the same message as the president. Whether or not you want to assert directly that Donald Trump is definitely a white supremacist, the facts of the matter are all there.
As John Pavlovitz, writer for the Huffington Post, said, “Maybe it’s me, but if calling the President a white supremacist is a fireable offense—than him actually being one sure as heck should be.”
Instead of Donald Trump and the other conservative supporters who are outraged by a woman of color voicing her opinions on the president, perhaps it would instead be beneficial to actually listen to Hill and actually contemplate just how “great” our America is under Donald Trump.