It’s been a pretty rough year for ESPN’s Jemele Hill. After Hill called out Donald Trump’s racist actions for what they were….”racist.” The ESPN host was villainized by avid Trump supporters. Her Twitter was filled with racist comments and race-filled name calling that her employers seemed to find a way not to take notice of. Shortly afterward, Hill was suspended by the network. She made her return to the SportsCenter “The Six” show she co-hosted with Michael Smith a short time later. Hill decided to leave the show. A move that her attackers took as a firing. Once again, Hill was attacked and mocked by the same people. Once again, Hill handled the situation with class…..well as much as can be expected when constantly under attack. Don’t get it twisted, Hill is known to “clap back” at her MAGA haters on occasion. Hill made a turn away from full-time on-air personality, and made a return to her roots. Writing. Writing about stories that mattered to the black community. The kind of stories most people wouldn’t dare attempt to touch. Today, someone besides myself took notice of Hill’s perseverance and commitment to speaking out against injustices against the African-American community, even in the face of what I consider, “unfair treatment by the company that’s supposed to have your back.”
Sports Illustrated (@SI) reports, Hill was named Journalist Of The Year by the NABJ (National Association Of Black Journalist). The honor is awarded to someone who has “amassed a distinguishing body of work with extraordinary depth, scope, and significance to the people of the African Diaspora.”
Congratulations Jemele! Well deserved. Hill and Smith have long been two of my favorite on-air personalities over at ESPN. Hopefully the two will reunite for a new “His & Hers” type of show……hopefully at a network that has the balls to stand up for their peoples when the time for it comes.
Michael Smith will be departing from ESPN’s 6pm SportsCenter show SC6. USA Today (@USATODAY) reports, ESPN executive vice president, Norby Williamson confirmed the news to USA Today.
“Michael is a talented commentator and we greatly appreciate and value his contributions and creativity. We are in the process of discussing with him potential next ESPN assignments.” Williams said in a statement.
Smith’s co-host, Jemele Hill left the show to write for ESPN’s “The Undefeated” about a month ago. Hill and Smith rose to ESPN prominence together, from the popular podcast the two co-hosted together, “His & Hers.” The popularity of the podcast prompted ESPN to give the pair an afternoon show on ESPN 2 under the same name. The popularity of the afternoon show, prompted ESPN to slide the pair into the 6pm. prime time slot…and even more notable, the national spotlight. Hill came under fire for comments she made about Donald Trump around the time of the murder of a woman in Charlottesville during a white supremacist rally. The outspoken Hill was pummeled with racist comments by Trump’s “Make America Great Again” Cult. The pressure on Hill ultimately turned the focus to ESPN. The company was faced with backlash and caved in to the “MAGA” Cult. The network suspended Hill, and it was pretty much a certainty that it was just a matter of time before ESPN tried to make Hill and Smith both disappear. Smith’s departure may come as news to some, but not me. It has obviously been in the works for a long time. Of course, ESPN will use ratings as an excuse, but the truth of the matter is, ESPN caved into pressure, and will surely do so again if they feel threatened by a perceived decrease in viewership.
According to her Twitter feed, she is. After fans of the daily sports show asked about her recent absence from the show, Champion sent out a few tweets that suggested that she might be moving on from SC Coast 2 Coast.
Champion hinted at some “new adventures” in her Tweets. Not sure if those new adventures will be with ESPN or somewhere else. Either way, I’m sad to see Cari go. Her smile and bubbly personality was the best part of the noon sports show that I’ve been watching almost religiously for over a year straight. I’m honestly not sure that I’m even interested in watching Coast 2 Coast anymore without Cari. One Tweeter suggested that, while it may just be a coincidence that two of the most prominent black women on ESPN have left shows in a very short period of time, it still sets a suspect optic. I agree, even though I doubt that Champion’s departure wasn’t of her own accord. Honestly, co-hosting may have been holding her back from doing bigger things. Like myself, I’m pretty sure that most people tuned in to Coast 2 Coast every day mostly for Cari Champion. Hopefully her journey will take her to where she wants to be. Maybe the anchor of a show without a co-host.
Multiple media outlets are reporting that Jemele Hill is leaving ESPN’s 6pm SportsCenter, SC6 and heading off to join the staff of ESPN’s The Undefeated. The Undefeated is ESPN’s version of its “woke” site. The move from SportsCenter to The Undefeated by Hill is reportedly a change she requested. Her co-anchor, Michael Smith, reportedly will remain as host of SC6.
Jemele Hill and Michael Smith had a podcast together prior to becoming co-host of SC6. The highly rated “His & Hers” podcast was enough for the network to want to make the move from podcast to tv show. Smith and Hill followed their same successful podcast formula when they made the transition to tv. A formula that fans of the show loved. A mixture of sports, comedy, and social issues concerning the black community. It was a formula that worked well for Smith and Hill. Once again, ESPN chased ratings. They decided to move Hill and Smith from a 2pm prime slot to a prime time slot and host of SportsCenter’s 6pm program. The move was surely a substantial pay raise, but the move was never going to allow Hill and Smith’s successful formula to work. There is a certain group of people in the world that believe love in one’s self and blackness is somehow hate for them and their whiteness. This thought by this group of people has become more and more transparent during this current administration. People were openly calling Jemele Hill a race-baiter because this black woman had the audacity to speak her mind. Women like Jemele Hill, who speak their minds, are a direct threat to people who have a fear of blackness. Jemele Hill spoke her mind when she called Donald Trump a racist. It was something many other people have said time and time again on many other networks. But when this black woman said it, it was suddenly blasphemy. People who never watched SportsCenter a day in their lives were calling for Hill to be fired. Even White House Spokeswoman, Sarah Huckabee Sanders called for Hill’s firing during her daily press briefing. No one else was mentioned, just Jemele Hill. Almost like she was purposely being singled out for a reason. Seeing one of their employees singled out by the president’s daily mouthpiece was enough to send ESPN into a panic. They suspended Hill. Hill returned to the show a few weeks later, but the damage had already been done. The fact that her employer, ESPN would not have her back if push came to shove was put on display. ESPN caved to the demands of this administration and its supporters because they believed that their ratings would be negatively effected if they didn’t.
If the move from SC6 to the Undefeated was actually Hill’s own doing and not a cover-up by the network for a demotion, you can surely expect Hill to continue speaking her mind like she has always been doing. In my honest opinion, I would consider moving away from ESPN period if I were Hill. Why continue to work for a network that clearly won’t have your back when push comes to shove? ESPN is not the only game in town. Maybe it’s time some “real” competition came along to remind them of this. As much as networks wanted to avoid this, it has become apparent that this administration has split this Country in every way possible. Good & Bad. Right & Wrong. Racist & Not Racist. At some point, everyone will be forced to pick a side. There is a right side and there is a wrong side. No matter which side you pick, your decision will be remembered in the future. Collapsing under the pressure instead of standing up for your employees against a clearly racist regime is the same as supporting that regime. People will remember.