The latest controversy surrounding left-leaning ESPN has bubbled all the way up to the White House, where Press Secretary Sarah Sanders weighed in Wednesday to say calling President Trump a “white supremacist” is a fireable offense.
The sports network’s Jemele Hill set off a firestorm with a recent tweet branding Trump a “white supremacist who has largely surrounded himself w/ other white supremacists.” That, according to Sanders, ought to earn Hill, host of the urban-centric program “SC6,” more than a slap on the wrist.
“That is one of the more outrageous comments that anybody could make and certainly is something that is a fireable offense by ESPN,” Sanders told reporters.
Sanders said she isn’t sure if Trump was aware of the comment.
Hill’s comment comes amid increasing criticism of ESPN for introducing liberal political bias into its sports programming. In one prominent, recent example, the channel pulled an Asian-American football broadcaster from a college football game at University of Virginia because his name was Robert Lee, same as the Confederate general. Despite widespread speculation that ESPN’s leftward tone has turned off viewers, Hill appears set to avoid any serious punishment.
“The comments on Twitter from Jemele Hill regarding the President do not represent the position of ESPN,” the network said in a statement. “We have addressed this with Jemele and she recognizes her action were inappropriate,” the network said in a statement.
When a reporter pressed Sanders for more of a reaction to Hill’s comments, the press secretary simply reminded the briefing room that Trump “has met with people like (South Carolina Republican] Senator [Tim] Scott, who are highly respected leaders in the Africa-American community” and is committed to “bringing the country together.”
Previous incidents have been handled much differently at ESPN and Hill was suspended nearly a decade ago when she compared Boston Celtics fans to Nazis in a blog on ESPN’s website in 2008.
Citing confidential sources, Fox Sports' "Outkick the Coverage’s" Clay Travis reported on Tuesday that longtime ESPN anchor Linda Cohn was told by directly by the network’s president John Skipper not to show up to work last April after she suggested that the network has become too political during a radio appearance. She missed a day of work – which is one day more than Hill will miss for calling the president a white supremacist.
Opinionated conservative and former MLB star Curt Schilling was fired from the network for expressing political views on social media in 2016 and former ESPN reporter Britt McHenry tweeted that she was once “reprimanded” after she favorited conservative-leaning tweets.
Hill, who is an outspoken liberal and even has photos of herself with President Obama pinned to her Twitter feed, isn’t dealing with the same consequences that Cohn, Schilling and McHenry faced.
ESPN did not immediately respond when contacted by Fox News about Sanders’ comments.