Embatted sportscaster Jemele Hill, one of the most prominent Black women at the network, is reportedly going to take the buyout offered by ESPN, reports say. Hill and her former His and Hers co-host Micheal Smith, who’s also been less visible on the network as of late, were co-hosting the rebooted Sportscenter, SC6.
That show struggled to find and audience and after HIll’s controversial tweets got her suspended, it was likely on life support. The exit of longtime ESPN head John Skipper, who was an ally, likely sealed the deal for Hill.
A tweet from author James Miller, who wrote a book about the network, was the first source of the news.
Hill has been fairly invisible at ESPN since departing earlier this year as co-anchor of the 6 PM hour of ESPN’s SportsCenter. She was listed on the staff of ESPN vertical The Undefeated as chief correspondent and senior columnist, but had few contributions and only the occasional on-camera appearance.
The fall from grace by Hill was triggered by the twin problems of low ratings and controversy over Hill’s political views, which she aired via Twitter. She was suspended and warned about tying her social media to politics, as the network is trying to move away from perceptions that it focuses too much on social issues and not enough on the nuts-and-bolts of sports.
In September 2017, Hill became the target of a tweet from President Donald Trump in which he demanded ESPN “apologize for untruth” after Hill tweeted that Trump is a “white supremacist.”
The White House blasted her tweet as a “fireable offense.” ESPN released a statement saying Hill’s tweets did not represent the position of the network. Hill later acknowledged that “Twitter wasn’t the place to vent my frustrations.”
It wasn’t her last controversy. A few weeks later, she was suspended by ESPN over tweets on Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones anti-kneeling stance on the national anthem protests. “Change happens when advertisers are impacted.,” Hill tweeted. “If you feel strongly about JJ’s statement, boycott his advertisers.”