The Tweeter-in-Chief demanded an apology from ESPN and the network somewhat obliged.
ESPN president John Skipper sent a memo to his employees Friday afternoon reminding them "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," he wrote, implying the network should rally around Jemele Hill. "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 if we are to succeed.”
But Skipper then backtracked, saying that the network's employees, in theory, should stick to sports.
“ESPN is not a political organization. Where sports and politics intersect, no one is told what view they must express,” he wrote. “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.
“I want to remind everyone about fundamental principles at ESPN. ESPN is about sports. … We show highlights and report scores and tell stories and break down plays.”
Skipper followed that by admitting what Hill did was a "violation" of the network's "standards.'
“We had a violation of (our) standards in recent days and our handling of this is a private matter,” Skipper wrote. “As always, in each circumstance we look to do what is best for our business.”
The memo came hours after President Trump took time to scold the World Wide Leader during a Friday morning tweet storm about filibusters and terrorist attacks.
"ESPN is paying a really big price for its politics (and bad programming)," the president tweeted 20 minutes after using the social media platform to discuss the most recent terror attack in London. "People are dumping it in RECORD numbers. Apologize for untruth!"
Trump's tweet comes after Hill called the commander-in-chief a "white supremacist" in a Monday tweet.
ESPN did not return the Daily News' request for comment.
Earlier in the week, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders demanded Hill, who co-anchors the 6 p.m. "SportsCenter" - aka "The Six" - with Michael Smith - be fired.
ESPN is paying a really big price for its politics (and bad programming). People are dumping it in RECORD numbers. Apologize for untruth!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 15, 2017
"That is one of the most outrageous comments that anybody could make and certainly is something that is a fireable offense at ESPN," she said.
The American Civil Liberties Union tweeted Friday morning that "the president and his staff should not be using the enormous power of their platform to bully journalists or chill dissent."
A day earlier the Democratic Coalition announced an ethics complaint against Sanders.
"When Sarah Huckabee Sanders called for Jemele Hill to be fired by ESPN, she crossed the line and put herself in dubious legal territory," Jon Cooper, the organization's chairman, said in a statement. "Even in Donald Trump's America, there's still such a thing as freedom of speech."
ESPN had stated Wednesday that Hill apologized to the network.
"Jemele has a right to her personal opinions, but not to publicly share them on a platform that implies that she was in any way speaking on behalf of ESPN," the network said. "She has acknowledged that her tweets crossed that line and has apologized for doing so. We accept her apology."
Hill made it clear in follow-up tweets that she was simply expressing her "personal beliefs."
"My regret is that my comments and the public way I made them painted ESPN in an unfair light," she wrote.
Although ESPN's PR machine is claiming the network is standing behind Hill, a report from ThinkProgress.org Thursday night depcited a network in chaos over the issue.
The report said that ESPN attempted to replace her on the 6 p.m. broadcast Wednesday with a different host until Smith "refused" to go the air without his long-time co-host. Two other black hosts were then approached by ESPN management, per ThinkProgress.org, but Michael Eaves and Elle Duncan also refused to be a part of the plan.
ESPN denied the report.
"We never asked any other anchors to do last night's show. Period."
Trump's tweet comes as ESPN continues to fight the narrative that the Disney-owned broadcast giant is too liberal.
What isn't "fake news" is that ESPN is dealing with a challenging landscape in the TV business as more and more households are cutting the cord and ditching cable for streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime.
The network was forced to deal with sagging revenue in April by laying off around 100 of its on-air talent, reporters and analysts.
“Dynamic change demands an increased focus on versatility and value, and as a result, we have been engaged in the challenging process of determining the talent—anchors, analysts, reporters, writers and those who handle play-by-play—necessary to meet those demands. We will implement changes in our talent lineup this week. A limited number of other positions will also be affected and a handful of new jobs will be posted to fill various needs,” Skipper wrote at the time in a memo to the staff.
Source : http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/trump-attacks-espn-demands-apology-jemele-hill-tweets-article-1.3497658