Jemele Hill and ESPN are parting ways as of Sept. 1, nearly a year after the commentator got swept up in a two-pronged social-media imbroglio that resulted in her brief suspension.
As first reported by “Origins” podcaster James Andrew Miller, the “amicable” split involves a buyout of Hill’s remaining contract, and came on the heels of a meeting she requested with Jimmy Pitaro, ESPN’s president of five months.
Perhaps of note, Pitaro last week told reporters, “I have been very, very clear with employees here that it is not our jobs to cover politics, purely.” He also made clear to the NFL that ESPN will continue to not broadcast the playing of the national anthem (and thus not run the risk of showing ongoing player protests against social injustice) before football games.
Last October, Hill was suspended from her position at ESPN for two weeks after she advocated, via Twitter, for a boycott of the Dallas Cowboys after owner Jerry Jones said he wouldn’t tolerate his team’s players not standing for the national anthem.
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That suspension was dictated by that fact that it was her second violation of ESPN’s social media guidelines, having tweeted in early September that President Trump is a “white supremacist” (calling him “the most ignorant, offensive president of my lifetime”). Conservatives — including White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders — at the time called for Hill to be fired, but she did not receive any immediate on-air discipline from the network.
This January, Hill left her position as co-anchor of Sportscenter to join ESPN’s sports/social/cultural issues site, The Undefeated, insisting on Twitter that the move was purely her choice.
A sports journalist who joined ESPN back in 2006, Hill appeared as a commentator on a number of the network’s shows before being promoted to anchor the 6 pm edition of SportsCenter alongside Michael Smith in February 2017.