ESPN president John Skipper sent a company-wide memo to all employees on Friday that essentially said they should stick to sports and have more discretion when commenting about political issues. Skipper’s memo was quickly leaked to the public. In it, the Four Letter’s president acknowledged the attention brought on ESPN by Jemele Hill’s tweets earlier this week, but did not announce any further punishment for Hill calling president Donald Trump a “bigot” and “white supremacist.”
The White House has twice called to attention the tweets, with White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders saying they were a “fireable offense” and later saying that ESPN is “hypocritical” in not punishing Hill. The network reportedly considered replacing Hill on a broadcast of the 6 p.m. SportsCenter show but did not when no anchor would replace her. Additionally, co-host Michael Smith reportedly refused to do the show without her.
ESPN released an official statement earlier in the week, but by Friday the network felt a further response was necessary to its employees. The memo explicitly says that it’s not possible to “stick to sports,” but then all but tells ESPN employees to do exactly that.