Trump doesn't hide his racist ways. Why should journalists pretend it doesn't exist?

ESPN is being widely mocked for its decision to rebuke a Black anchor who condemned Donald Trump as an unfit white supremacist.

Demanding to know what was inaccurate in the anchor’s condemnation, critics see the reprimand as another troubling example of corporate media outlets demanding journalists stay quiet about Trump and his radical ways.

The “SportsCenter” co-anchor, Jemele Hill, posted her truth-telling thread on Twitter in response to a posting from right-wing rocker, and possible Michigan Senate candidate, Kid Rock:

Hill’s blistering comments were especially timely since on Tuesday, Congress passed a bipartisan resolution demanding that Trump speak up and condemn white supremacists. The unusual move came in the wake of Trump’s stunning comments that some “very fine people” were among the Nazis and Klansmen who marched and rioted in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August, and where a counter-protester was killed.

Still, ESPN walked back Hill’s commentary in a statement on Tuesday. “The comments on Twitter from Jamele Hill regarding the President do not represent the position of ESPN. We have addressed with Jamele and she recognizes her actions were inappropriate.”

Note that nowhere in her tweets did Hill suggest her comments did represent the position of ESPN. And according to The Daily Beast, “Three months after Trump was elected, the policy was adjusted to allow commentators like Hill to express their views if the topic is ‘related to a current issue impacting sports.'”

It seems pretty clear that if the president of the United States is a racist and, for instance, nearly three-quarters of NFL players are black, than today’s White House racism is “related to a current issue impacting sports.”

Nonetheless, under attack from Trump supporters, ESPN backed down. And critics called the company out:

And from Esquire’s Charles Pierce:

“ESPN felt that it had to grovel before the racist uncle demographic so as to not give off the impression that it leans left,” wrote Deadspin.

In recent years, ESPN has become a prime target for conservatives. They regularly announce that ESPN has lost millions of subscribers in recent years because angry conservatives are tuning the channel out.

“Sites like Outkick the Coverage and Breitbart, through sheer persistence, have managed to reframe ESPN’s business problem as a culture problem,” notes The New Yorker. But that’s really just more right-wing fantasy: ESPN is losing subscribers because of the national chord-cutting trend among TV consumers.

If the immediate reactions to ESPN’s treatment of Hill are any indication, however, criticizing its own staff for rightly calling out Trump’s racism is unlikely to further endear it to its customers.


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