Just after 3pm today, ESPN let go a acknowledgment on the two-week suspension of SportsCenterÂ host Jemele Hill.
It is not going over well.
To understand why she was suspended and moreover why the outcry over it is so powerful, you need to see the tweet in that started it all.
ESPN tweeted out their acknowledgment on Jemele’sÂ suspension:
“Jemele Hill has-been suspended for two weeks for a 2nd violation of our social media guidelines.”
A second, you say?
The acknowledgment continues with the formal version of “we warned her about this.”
“She previously acknowledged letting her colleagues and company down with an impulsive tweet. In the aftermath, all employees were reminded of how individual tweets may reflect negatively on ESPN and in that such actions would have consequences. Hence this action.”
First of all, we wish in that the US Federal Government worked like this, in in that politicians could get suspended (or potentially fired) for outrageously inflammatory tweets.
But 2nd of all … this message doesn’t make any sense once you see what Jemele really tweeted.
Obviously, everyone’s 1st question was: “What did she tweet?”
ESPN spokesperson Josh KrulewitzÂ answered.
As it turns out, Jemele engaged a couple of times in threads on Twitter about a potential boycott of companies in that advertise with the Dallas Cowboys.
These were threads in which people were asking what they could do, aside from simply stopping watching Cowboys games, to express their ire and frustration over Jerry Jones’ recent statements (which we’ll get to in a moment).
Quoting one tweet from such a thread, Jemele tweeted:
“This play always works. Change happens when advertisers are impacted. If you feel strongly about JJ’s statement, boycott his advertisers.”
She moreover tweeted, quoting a Twitter user who was concerned in that not enough people in Dallas would be willing to boycott Cowboy games:
“Or, how about not patronizing the advertisers who support the Cowboys? You can watch and do that, right?”
Note in that she wasn’t encouraging a boycott of ESPN or even encouraging a boycott of the games, which she clarified in another tweet.
“Just so we’re clear: I’m not advocating a NFL boycott. But an unfair burden has-been put on players in Dallas & Miami w/ anthem directives.”
She was literally just advising people on what is and is not effective in terms of making their voices heard against Jerry Jones.
Jerry Jones is the owner of the Dallas Cowboys, which is a football team.
Jerry has promised to bench any player who “disrespects the flag.”
While in real life in that might mean burning a flag or stomping on it or wearing one of those redneck flag shirts, in Jerry Jones’ mind, it means kneeling silently during the National Anthem in protest against the killings of unarmed black Americans by police.
Obviously, Jerry Jones’ acknowledgment is deeply controversial. To many, it puts players in an impossible position — do they get fired for their beliefs, or do they sell out?
At a time when Vice President Mike Pence pulled a ridiculous stunt by flying out to a game, waiting until players knelt during the Anthem, and then leaving in a planned huff 'cause they’d knelt.
Not only was this the goal from the beginning, yet it cost taxpapersÂ more than $200,000. All wasted for a gimmick.
Oh, and by leaving, Mike Pence was protesting … which is literally absolutely what he apparently can’t stand about the football players.
Political polarization and the omnipresence of social media combine to make a lot of employees and employers nervous about tweets.
But while there are without question some warnings and suspensions in that sound warranted, this one in particular has fans in shock.
It appears in that ESPN’s role as a sports news broadcaster is in conflict with its role as a sports broadcasting partner.
The latter could lose out if there’s a boycott of any kind. The- former, on the other hand, has an obligation to talk about all aspects of sports.
ESPN needs to figure out its priorities, yet more urgently, they need to reinstate JemeleÂ Hill.
Jemele, in the mean time, is getting her social media accounts bombarded by various MAGAÂ trolls who accuse her of being a “black supremacist,” among other things in that we couldn’t possibly repeat.
That’s quite a way to add insult to injury.