“Jemele Hill has been suspended for two weeks for a second violation of our social media guidelines,” ESPN said in a statement Monday on its public relations Twitter account. “She previously acknowledged letting her colleagues and company down with an impulsive tweet. In the aftermath, all employees were reminded of how individual tweets may reflect negatively on ESPN and that such actions would have consequences. Hence this decision.”
Hill will not appear on Monday’s 6 p.m. ET edition of “SportsCenter,” which the network bills as “SC6” and which Hill hosts with Michael Smith. Matt Barrie will host “SportsCenter” from 6-9 p.m. ET on ESPN2, with “Monday Night Football” and pregame show “Monday Night Countdown” airing on ESPN.
Smith will also not appear on air Monday. A source close to the situation characterized the decision for Smith to sit out the telecast as a mutual one made by him and ESPN. He is expected to return for Tuesday’s show.
Hill’s suspension comes in response to tweets she made suggesting football fans pressure NFL advertisers in response to mandates from the owners of the Dallas Cowboys and Miami Dolphins that players stand during the playing of the national anthem. On Sunday, Hill wrote, “If you strongly reject what Jerry Jones said, the key is his advertisers. Don’t place the burden squarely on the players.” Hill tweeted again Monday saying that she was not calling for an advertiser boycott, but did not clarify what fan-advertiser interaction she was suggesting. “Just so we’re clear: I’m not advocating a NFL boycott. But an unfair burden has been put on players in Dallas & Miami w/ anthem directives.” Her original tweet quoted another Twitter user encouraging fans to write to advertisers’ corporate offices and post on their social-media pages.
The suspension came one month after ESPN distanced itself from comments Hill made on Twitter calling President Donald Trump a white supremacist. The network did not suspend Hill for the comments, and eventually came under fire from Trump himself. ESPN president John Skipper after the incident sent a memo to staff saying “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.”
Hill in an essay posted on ESPN’s website The Undefeated, later wrote of the incident, “Twitter wasn’t the place to vent my frustrations.”