ESPN has long tried its best to keep its personalities from voicing overt political opinions on their airwaves or via social media, but in recent years their efforts to have employees “stick to sports” has come undone. As this has happened, the sports media giant has dealt with backlash from those who feel a political slant or agenda has become more and more prevalent on ESPN programming and from ESPN’s personalities.
This has been the sole focus of the company’s biggest critic, Clay Travis, and there are plenty who have followed his lead in pointing to a decline in ratings and subscriptions to ESPN becoming more politicized, rather than noting the general decline of the cable TV bundle and the rise of web streaming services and the effect that has on advertising dollars.
Those criticisms often lead to ESPN being quick to release a statement when a personality takes to Twitter to voice political opinions. That’s what happened on Tuesday, as ESPN responded to a lengthy Twitter tirade from SportsCenter host Jemele Hill regarding Donald Trump and his ties to white supremacy.
The tweets in question from Hill happened on Monday night, as she let loose on followers with a string of tweets explaining why Trump surrounding himself with white supremacists told the story about his beliefs as well as expounding on why he is, just generally, a failure as a leader and president.
Hill’s statements aren’t false — he’s hired white supremacists to work on his advisory staff, refused to condemn white supremacists, and his statements about the Central Park 5 speak for themselves — but taking on Trump directly on Twitter is generally a no-no at ESPN and resulted in the statement above and attempt at avoiding too much of a firestorm.