Jemele Hill on Trump Controversy: ‘Twitter Wasn’t the Place to Vent My Frustrations’

ESPN anchor Jemele Hill has acknowledged that the controversy over her tweets calling President Donald Trump a racist wound up turning the sports powerhouse “into a punching bag.”

In an essay penned for ESPN’s website the Undefeated, Hill defended her right to call out injustice and social issues in her role as a journalist and sportscaster. Trump’s actions during the past few days of sparring via social media with NBA star Steph Curry and calling out NFL players for protesting during the National Anthem “the latest examples of silence being impossible,” Hill wrote. “This is not a time for retreating comfortably to a corner.”

But she also conceded: “Twitter wasn’t the place to vent my frustrations.”

The “SportsCenter” anchor disclosed that she cried recently in a meeting with ESPN chief John Skipper because she felt she had disappointed him.

“It was the first time I had ever cried in a meeting. I didn’t cry because Skipper was mean or rude to me. I cried because I felt I had let him and my colleagues down,” Hill wrote. “Since my tweets criticizing President Donald Trump exploded into a national story, the most difficult part for me has been watching ESPN become a punching bag and seeing a dumb narrative kept alive about the company’s political leanings.”

Hill stirred a firestorm earlier this month with tweets asserting that Trump is racist. She did not back down from that assertion in her essay.

“I also can’t pretend as if the tone and behavior of this presidential administration is normal,” Hill wrote. “And I certainly can’t pretend that racism and white supremacy aren’t real and that marginalized people don’t feel threatened and vulnerable, myself included, on a daily basis.”

Hill wrote that journalists are living in a time of “blurred lines,” and acknowledged that she regrets trying to discuss such a complex issue via Twitter.

“Twitter wasn’t the place to vent my frustrations because, fair or not, people can’t or won’t separate who I am on Twitter from the person who co-hosts the 6 p.m. SportsCenter,” Hill wrote. “Twitter also isn’t a great place to have nuanced, complicated discussions, especially when it involves race. Warriors player Kevin Durant and I probably need to take some classes about how to exercise better self-control on Twitter. Lesson learned.”

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