ESPN’s John Skipper Says Jemele Hill Violated Social-Media Policy With Trump Tweets

ESPN John Skipper
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ESPN president John Skipper issued a memo to employees Friday addressing the recent controversy over “SportsCenter” host Jemele Hill’s public comments about Donald Trump.

“In light of recent events, we need to remind ourselves that we are a journalistic organization and that we should not do anything that undermines that position,” Skipper wrote.

The ESPN chief also reminded staff about guidelines related to social media use: “[W]e have social media policies which require people to understand that social platforms are public and their comments on them will reflect on ESPN. At a minimum, comments should not be inflammatory or personal.”

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In what was clearly a reference to Hill, he continued, “We had a violation of those standards in recent days and our handling of this is a private matter. As always, in each circumstance we look to do what is best for our business.”

Hill on Monday took to Twitter with a series of statements criticizing Trump, calling him “a white supremacist who has largely surrounded himself w/ other white supremacists.” ESPN issued a statement Tuesday distancing itself from Hill’s tweets after a White House spokesperson called them “a fireable offense.” On Friday morning, Trump stoked the controversy with his own tweet about the matter, writing, “ESPN is paying a really big price for its politics (and bad programming). People are dumping it in RECORD numbers. Apologize for untruth!”

Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitsch first released a copy of Skipper’s memo on Twitter Friday. Variety has confirmed its authenticity. Read the full memo from below:

I want to remind everyone about the fundamental principles at ESPN.

ESPN is about sports. Last year, we broadcast over 16,000 sports events. We show highlights and report scores and tell stories and break down plays.

And we talk about sports all day every day. Of course, sports is intertwined with society and culture, so “sticking to sports” is not so simple. When athletes engage on issues or when protests happen in games, we cover, report and comment on that. We are, among other things, the largest, most accomplished and highly resourced sports news organization. We take great pride in our news organization.

We have programs on which we discuss and even debate sports, as well as the issues that intersect with sports. Fans themselves love to debate and discuss sports.

ESPN is not a political organization. Where sports and politics intersect, no one is told what view they must express.

At the same time, ESPN has values. We are committed to inclusion and an environment of tolerance where everyone in a diverse work force has the equal opportunity to succeed. We consider this human, not political. Consequently, we insist that no one be denigrated for who they are including their gender, ethnicity, religious belief or sexual identity.

We have issues of significant debate in our country at this time. Our employees are citizens and appropriately want to participate in the public discussion. That can create conflict for our public facing talent between their work and their personal points of view. Given this reality, we have social media policies which require people to understand that social platforms are public and their comments on them will reflect on ESPN. At a minimum, comments should not be inflammatory or personal.

We had a violation of those standards in recent days and our handling of this is a private matter. As always, in each circumstance we look to do what is best for our business.

In light of recent events, we need to remind ourselves that we are a journalistic organization and that we should not do anything that undermines that position.

We also know that ESPN is a special place and that our success is based on you and your colleagues’ work. Let’s not let the public narrative re-write who we are or what we stand for. Let’s not be divided in that pursuit. I will need your support is we are to succeed.

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  1. Michael says:

    Until she’s fired and off the air I won’t be watching any ESPN channels nor will I use any of ESPN websites.

  2. Richard says:

    If you cannot prove what you say about someone, it is called defamation of character.

  3. Roy Wilson says:

    I agree with Hills 1st Admendment Rights to state what she believes in. I am also appalled that the White House feels the need to single out a journalist that used twitter to call out the POTUS whose comments have no impact to US policy. For the comments it seems ESPN is scard as a corporation to make there core values as a company known to the public and for hanging your journalist out to dry and for the management to disntant itself from a highly talented female African American in a white male domintated industry I feel impowered to cut back my cable package to remove ESPN from my channels. ESPN should come out and stand behind the full comments of Hill!!!!

  4. John Pope says:

    I do not think she should be fired. They should rehire curt schilling, et el and assign ms hill to a few months covering North Korean athletics and then all can return to normal.

  5. Gayle Wood says:

    ESPN seems to be an organization that displays blatant hypocrisy in its attitude toward racism. It condemns white racism and anything remotely un-politically correct, but enables and coddles black racism and hate speech hiding behind political correctness. For myself, NEITHER is acceptable or to be tolerated. ESPN is also known to be openly anti-conservative, with a hostile environment and attitude toward anyone who doesn’t march in the liberal party line. I think that ESPN president John Skipper is being less than honest when he says, “We are committed to inclusion and an environment of tolerance where everyone in a diverse work force has the equal opportunity to succeed.” But one has only to look at ESPN’s history of doling out punishment to realize the disingenuousness of that statement. What Mr. Skipper and others of his mindset want is diversity on the outside and groupthink on the inside We should all look different but think alike – the fair, open-minded liberal way that ESPN so exemplifies. REALLY? Remember that we all can vote with our wallets as well as at the polling booths. Remember that especially the next time ESPN tries to ram its liberal political agenda down your throats.

  6. Will says:

    She is today what Jimmy the Greek was. He said tjings thst, although were historically correct, were repulsive to many. His career was over. She did the same, violated espn rules and WONT be fired because of the color of her skin.

  7. evey says:

    If you are able to write comments, thank the constitution. I am happy to live in a country where you have many different viewpoints and I am glad that our journalists are still able to present news to us. So for the president and his white house press secretary to call someone out, Is this a violation of the first amendment? Wake up and listen your with your third ear and watch with your third eye. Things are seldom what they seem.

  8. Asterisk says:

    But the bigots at ESPN will do nothing to her, of course.

  9. Sally schlehlein says:

    I really enjoy ESPN and the bold conversations which often include controversial issues. I think that many commentators have been right on in regard to so many important things. I find myself watching more of it than before. And thanks for showing so many great women’s sporting events.

  10. Yeah, the whole political correctness doxxing defamation thing ain’t so funny and righteous when it’s directed in the reverse, is it? Payback is a bitch. Taste of your own medicine? It’s too late. ESPN is garbage in a world that recycles.

  11. John Kovac says:

    If he walks like a duck and quacks ……Thx Janeel

  12. Steve Ski says:

    She totally disrespected the office of President of the United States. Though we might not always agree with things that our leader(s) says and does, he is the leader of OUR country and deserves our respect. She should have been terminated immediately.

    • Justme says:

      Trump’s been sued for racial discrim by 3 diff DOJs(including Republican) he engaged in a 5 year birther campaign against the President of the US, and in 2012 tweeted that President Obama “was a racist.” Yet this was barely an issue in the 2016 campaign, and despite this despicable behavior by their employee, NBC never fired him, in fact they renewed his contract. Racists are almost always hypocrites as well.

    • Sam says:

      Everybody is afraid of the black bogeyman.

  13. Des says:

    OK folks Mr Trump called President Obama a racist, led the false narrative and harasses Obama for five years on racist premise that Obama was not bon in America, and questioned Obama educational achievement, to the point where President Obama had to produce evidence of his ligitimacy. Mr Trump called Mexicans rapist, he made comments about grabbing women by the P. He even claimed rights to this action because of his status. Plus the many other proven unethical racial and unethical charges against him. Should Mr Trump be fired? Or is this is another proven case where the non visibe minority gets a free pass. Because it apears that the visible minorities, in most cases have to operate by a different set of standards. And it’s easier to throw the rule books on minorities while the rest, in many situations has inconsequential behaviours. America, you have lowered the standard for just about any person , private or public, civil servant or cililliant to behave and speak in any manner they chose. Because you have given the person with the highest office in the world a free pass to behave in such manner. You have also normalize improper language by adopting at large, the term ” politically incorrect” you have used this to make it OK for your supreme leader to say whatever he wants, whenever he wants, no matter how disrespectful or dishonest his statements are. Give the young lady from ESPN a break, I see it as she following the new low bar that you have set. Role modelling starts from the top down. therefore, I suggest you start with your president. No one should be excused for inappropriate behaviour and it should not be condoned.The world is watching, set better standards and expectations and hold all people accounable , including your leaders and pepole who hold public offices.

    • chenker says:

      So your argument is that if leaders are not held accountable to the political views of either right or left wing extremism than no one should be held accountable or fired for anything or disciplined. Telling of a politicised answer. I’m just trying to watch sports journalism, movies and comics without having Disney act as a political groupthink machine. It’s sad because I loved old marvel comics, ESPN and Disney where creativity and journalism used to trump politics. Fire Jemele Hill or the only viewers left will be left wing fascists who soon will be attacking Disney and asking for their statues of Walt and Mickey to be removed due to political incorrectness.

      • Justme says:

        What is this gibberish? (“right or left extremism?”) Since when is it “extreme,” to say that a man who admittedly says he grabs women unsolicited by the genitals is sexist or to say that a man who housing discriminates by race is racist? what in God’s name is wrong with you RWNJs?

        Address the facts presented or back away.

        It’s simple. Trump IS a racist, the evidence proves it. Jemele stated the obvious.

        You can have a seat.

    • Kaboom! says:

      Meltdown!

      • Michael says:

        How did protecting American citizens against the ills of the millions of illegals here to steal either by social handouts or criminal activity the hard earned money of legitimate American citizens?

  14. chenker says:

    Unfortunately, if ESPN president John skipper doesn’t act to fire Jemele hill, he’ll be contradicting his own words and policies of,”ESPN is not a political organization. Where sports and politics intersect, no one is told what view they must express,” as Hill crossed this line twice in the last few months. The first instance she said it was hard to talk about sports due to her views on racism and now she compounds and further lowers the reputation of her employers as political propaganda vehicles. Disney needs to stop trying to preach through sports and comic books that everyone has to think a certain way. It’s destroying the brand’s value and I will not support and co tongue to boycott ESPN, Disney, marvel comics, and channel 7 here in LA as I’m not looking for political groupthink lessons and racial prejudicial opinions by people who got on tv due to there color more so than their talent FIRE HILL. Prejudice is prejudice no matter what color or gender it comes from and sports is not politics.

    • Deepdust says:

      Absolutely agree, she should have been fired day after this happened. Regardless of your political leanings, there is only one logical conclusion ad to why she wasn’t. To deny that is to deny the very truth, period.

      • Justme says:

        Wrong, even if you subscribe to the hypocrisy that Jemele only gets one infraction by every 10 committed by right wing extremist fool Schilling, Stephen A or others- bottom line is people tune in to see sports and social commentary surrounding sports. For every fragile white racist that vows to turn off ESPN, there are 50 more sane viewers and fans who will be turning in.

        Ratings are up, and Jemele is a household name. Your sad pathetic idolatry and obeisance to the clown puppet Putin owned loon in the WH, has brought democracy to the brink and made our country a worldwide laughingstock.

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