While a number of prominent athletes, ESPN viewers and even co-workers, such as Michael Wilbon, stood up for Jemele Hill, the network’s anchor who earlier this week tweeted that President Trump is a “white supremacist,” she opted to apologize to her employer.
Hill’s apology made it clear that her comments, which included a tweet saying, “[Trump’s] the most ignorant, offensive president of my lifetime. His rise is a direct result of white supremacy,” are her own beliefs, while acknowledging they painted ESPN in “an unfair light.”
ESPN accepted her apology. In a statement, the network wrote: “Jemele has a right to her personal opinions, but not to publicly share them on a platform that implies that she was in any way speaking on behalf of ESPN. She has acknowledged that her tweets crossed that line and has apologized for doing so. We accept her apology.”
Earlier on Wednesday, Trump’s press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders kept Hill’s comments in the national spotlight. She responded to a question about the tweets and ensuing controversy from Washington Post White House reporter David Nakamura, who previously covered sports for the paper, with a stern answer: “I’m not sure if he’s aware [of the tweets],” she said of the president, “but 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.”
It was a rare moment to hear a White House staffer essentially recommend that a critic of the president be fired by the network.
In a previous statement, ESPN said its representatives had spoken with Hill but did not disclose if she would be punished.