Jemele Hill continues to double, triple and quadruple down on her tweets from September calling President Trump a “white supremacist,” a “bigot” and “unfit to be president.”
Last month, Hill joined former NFL running back Arian Foster’s podcast called Now What? and told Foster “I said what I said and I don’t take it back,” Hill said on the podcast. “Like I ain’t getting a retraction. No, I never have and I never will.”
This week, Hill went on Richard Deitsch’s podcast where she was asked about her tweets from September and using Twitter as a medium for her opinions in general. Deitsch phrased the question differently than others, not asking if she regrets sharing her opinions, but does she regret the “specific language” she used?
“I have more regrets about the medium. Most of us find out every day in some form or fashion that Twitter is not necessarily a place for nuance. Twitter’s not even really a place where if you want to have some extensive conversation, especially about race, Twitter’s not set up for that. It’s built on quick thoughts, okay, and that’s not something to have quick thoughts about. So I don’t really have any regrets about the language that I used, because I do think that there is some evidence to at least where we can question some of the things that he’s said and done, and for that matter, examine why there are clearly large groups of people, women, people of color, who feel they’re very vulnerable at this time and under attack. I don’t regret what I said or even the language that I used.”
“It’s just the where. The where is problematic because, of course, there are these problems that are going to be created because of who I represent and who I work for. And that’s just not a conversation that people are accustomed to someone in my position having, especially not in an open forum. And I’ve often wondered, if I were on a panel discussion at Harvard and said the same thing, would it have resonated the same way? Because I do think now that Twitter’s become what it’s become, it’s an easy place to search tweets and create headlines and create sort of this think piece-like environment for other media entities.”
“And I think timing is everything, and I regret the timing too, because there is, and I’ve mentioned this before and talked to you about this before, the timing of especially where and how ESPN is being viewed by a lot of people, those are things that in a forum like that, it’s just not going to go over well. So, as I’ve said before, I don’t take anything back from what I said, I’ve been very consistent in that message, but I do think the environment lends itself to it drawing more attention than it was probably worth.”
ESPN doesn’t seem to take issue with Hill discussing her opinions on different podcasts, so had she never tweeted her thoughts on the president, would it have become such a mainstream hot topic? If she joined a podcast in September and said she felt President Trump was a white supremacist, it’s hard to imagine the opinion would have gone ignored.
The focus for ESPN regarding its talent sharing their political opinions has been about Twitter. Opinionated tweets spread faster than an opinionated thought shared on a podcast. Shortly before John Skipper resigned from ESPN, he held a meeting in December with ESPN employees to discuss the networks social media policy.
ESPN employees are expected to act “civil, responsible and without overt political or other biases that would threaten our or your credibility with the public.” The network also reserves “the right to take action for violations of these principles.”
The interesting question is what happens when Hill shares a political opinion in the future, whether it be on Twitter or another social media platform. ESPN hasn’t told her to stop discussing her previous tweets, but would they take issue with future tweets offering new beliefs?