Donald Trump officially added ESPN to the list of networks he’s publicly criticized while in office on Friday in an apparent response to network host Jemele Hill’s claims that Trump is a white supremacist. The 45th president of the United States took to the social media site on Friday morning to criticize a public company and demanded it “apologize for untruth” after an ESPN employee was critical of Trump earlier this week.
“The Six” host Hill has been in the spotlight since she tweeted that Trump was a “bigot” and “white supremacist” earlier in the week. Outrage from conservative parts of the Internet forced ESPN to offer up an apology, which was followed by offers of support from athletes like Colin Kaepernick and Dwyane Wade.
White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders claimed that ESPN should fire Hill for her comments. Reports indicate that ESPN attempted to replace Hill on air but that a number of her ESPN colleagues refused to go on air without her. Hill has stayed on the show but offered an apology for the “unfair light” her comments placed the network in. That wasn’t enough for Trump, though, who lashed out at the network early Friday morning.
“ESPN is paying a really big price for its politics (and bad programming),” Trump tweeted. “People are dumping it in RECORD numbers. Apologize for untruth!”
This may mean that Trump simply doesn’t like afternoon debate shows, but given the attention Hill’s comments have received in recent days it almost certainly is Trump lashing out at ESPN in response to HIll’s comments.
The issue of ESPN’s shrinking subscriber base is much more complicated than people getting turned off by the supposed politics of a cable sports network, as the shift from cable television to streaming options in vast demographics changes the face of broadcast television. Still, it’s not all that surprising that Trump picked a convenient narrative over a more nuanced look at the facts.
Often the easiest way to look at the world is that there are two sides to every issue, and one must pick a side at all times. Jemele Hill picked a side that isn’t Donald Trump’s, so according to Trump all of ESPN must be against him. And indeed, it seems like many in the sports world are lining up opposite of Trump in this case, at least in defending Hill. Though Floyd Mayweather still seems to be a fan.