Earlier in the week, ESPN personality Jemele Hill called President Donald Trump a “white supremacist” on Twitter. Hill was engaged in a social media discussion about Kid Rock and politics when the thread turned to Trump. The co-host of ESPN’s “The Six” then unleashed a series of tweets ripping Trump.
ESPN did not suspend Hill. The network released this statement about her views: “The comments on Twitter from Jemele Hill regarding the president do not represent the position of ESPN,’’ the network tweeted. ‘‘We have addressed this with Jemele and she recognizes her actions were inappropriate.’’
Hill issued her own statement.
Hill’s tweets about Trump have remained on her timeline.
On Wednesday, the White House was calling for Hill to be fired. Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said she wasn’t sure if the president was made aware of Hill’s tweets, then added:‘‘But I think that’s one of the more outrageous comments that anyone could make, and certainly something that I think is a fire-able offense by ESPN.”
Well, Trump is aware of the comments now. In a Friday morning tweet, the president took ESPN to task over the comments and related the network’s politics to their loss of subscribers. He also asked for an apology.
While Trump might be right about some viewers being turned off by the mix of politics and sports, most experts in the television industry would attribute the ESPN losses to cord-cutting cable subscribers.
In 2011 ESPN peaked with more than 100 million subscribers and have been on a steady decline since, falling to 88 million in the latest data. Remember, those are subscribers, not viewers.
ESPN contends that in their latest ratings, viewership was up 12 percent for the first quarter of 2017 and 18 percent for viewers aged 18 to 34.
ESPN conducted an independent survey in June to check themselves on the politics issue. Two-thirds of those surveyed said the network has the right mix of politics and sports. On that question, 10 percent had no opinion and eight percent wanted more politics.