ESPN’s alleged attempts to replace SportsCenter anchor Jemele Hill proved futile on Wednesday when her colleagues refused to serve as a substitute for the host reports ThinkProgress.
Hill came under right-wing fire on Monday after tweeting that Donald Trump was a white supremacist. The tweet was quickly followed by calls for her removal from the network and threats of a boycott. The far-right and furious were further enraged by ESPN’s response to Hill’s tweet and believed the host should have been more harshly reprimanded. On Wednesday afternoon, the Trump administration went so far as to set aside time to coax ESPN into firing the 41-year-old.
White House Press Secretary claimed Hill’s remarks about the president were a “fireable offense” during a Wednesday press conference. While ESPN was ready to fold under President Trump’s attempt to strong-arm the network, which he continued to do on Friday morning, Hill’s on-air colleagues succumbed to no such pressure.
ESPN insiders told ThinkProgress that the station was scrambling to find a replacement for Hill on Wednesday but the sports outlet’s black anchors declined to facilitate the temporary ousting.
Hill’s SportsCenter co-anchor Michael Smith refused to do the show without her. Producers then tried to recruit two other black hosts Michael Eaves and Elle Duncan who refuted the request. Eaves later expressed his frustrations with the day’s events on social media. Once producers were only left with the option of replacing Hill with white anchors, they conceded. Hill sat alongside Smith and programming proceeded as usual.
But ESPN denies any efforts to replace Hill on Wednesday. On Tuesday, Hill’s fellow ESPN anchor Cari Champion made a smaller but equally significant show of allyship via Twitter.
— Cari Champion (@CariChampion) September 12, 2017
There’s truly nothing more moving than black solidarity.