President Trump demanded an apology from ESPN Friday after one of its hosts labeled him a “white supremacist.”
“ESPN is paying a really big price for its politics (and bad programming),” Trump wrote on Twitter, minutes after firing off a volley of tweets reacting to an apparent terror attack in London. “Apologize for untruth!”
ESPN is paying a really big price for its politics (and bad programming). People are dumping it in RECORD numbers. Apologize for untruth!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 15, 2017
Jemele Hill, a “SportsCenter” co-host, sparked the controversy Monday by sharply criticizing Trump on Twitter.
Besides calling him a “white supremacist,” Hill also said in a series of tweets that Trump was “the most ignorant, offensive president of my lifetime” and a “bigot” who has “empowered white supremacists.”
ESPN said in a Tuesday statement that Hill’s comments “do not represent the position of ESPN.”
“We have addressed this with Jemele and she recognizes her actions were inappropriate,” they continued.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders was asked on Wednesday for a reaction to Hill’s comments and whether the president was aware of them.
“I’m not sure if he’s aware, 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,” Sanders said.
Later Wednesday, Hill posted a statement clarifying that her comments expressed “personal beliefs.”
“My regret is that my comments and the public way I made them painted ESPN in an unfair light,” she said.
ESPN said it accepted Hill’s apology.
The network has faced criticism for injecting politics into its coverage, a charge Hill herself addressed in June.
“I just hadn’t noticed the correlation between us being called more liberal as you see more women in a position on our network…as you see more ethnic diversity, then all of a sudden ESPN is too liberal,” Hill said. “So I wonder, when people say that, what they’re really saying.”
“The other part of it is that we’re journalists, and people have to understand, these uncomfortable political conversations… the athletes are dragging us here,” she added. “I didn’t ask Colin Kaepernick to kneel. He did it on his own. So, was I supposed to act like he didn’t?”