ESPN - Every Snowflake Participates Now (Part II)
Today, the White House took the unprecedented step of asking ESPN to fire its reporter Jemele Hill.
From the White House podium, Sarah Sanders said Hill's criticism of the president was a "fireable offense by ESPN."- CNN
Now I agree with the White House and you probably think that's a peculiar stance for a free speech site. Let me explain to you, the reader, why ESPN is in a lose/lose situation.
Usually I would stick up for Hill's Freedom of Speech, but after writing ESPN - Every Snowflake Participates Now, I'm more convinced than ever that ESPN is an agenda driven sports network. Hill has called the President a White Supremacist, a Bigot, and the "most ignorant, offensive president of my lifetime." Now I agree that her speech is protected, but the problem is that ESPN has set the precedent of firing people who have controversial speech (see Curt Schilling.) Remember, Schilling wasn't fired for attacking a person, he was on the wrong side of the Transgender Bathroom Issue. The White House is also aware of ESPN's history of shutting down controversial speech. Of course I really don't really think Hill should be fired, but this is a defining moment for ESPN. They have 2 decisions.
I fully expect Hill to be fired within 72 hours. Not for her content, but because the Right Wing Media and the public will turn up the heat on the network demanding her termination. Once boycotts of advertisers and threats from conservative groups begin, ESPN will fire her not for what she said, but because of the financial pressure on the network.
ESPN could come out in support of Hill and say "we support Hill's Freedom of Speech and support Hill's right as an American to speak her mind." That would be the right thing to do. But that would reinforce my (and the public's) opinion that ESPN is all about the protection of free speech when they agree with the speech. Again, the Curt Schilling incident is not an isolated occurrence at ESPN. You could argue that Schilling is a repeat offender, and that would be true, but in researching this article, this isn't Hill's first brush with controversy.
I have to be brutally honest, before today I didn't even know who Jamele Hill was. That's okay, I'm sure she's not familiar with Beacon of Speech, either. The point is, she's not a household name, she's not a former athlete, like Mark May, and she's not an iconic broadcaster, like Mike Tirico. It would be easy for ESPN to fire her and sweep the situation under the rug, and I fully expect that to be the eventual outcome.
But the correct option would be to retain Hill and issue an apology to Schilling saying "ESPN supports all Americans right to free speech." The chances of that happening are about the same as that happening at your corporate place of business.
Let's conduct a little social experiment, shall we? Go ahead, cross out the letters ESPN and pencil in your company's name. Now tweet out that the President of your company is a White Supremacist, a Bigot, and the "most ignorant, offensive (CEO) of my lifetime." How's that gonna go for you? Now you could argue that Hill didn't tweet that about her CEO at ESPN, but of the President. The problem is she works in the Media. What does her views have to do with the New York/Chicago game? She works for a Sports Media company that has repeatedly thrust itself into the national political debate. You can't talk smack about the president, then hide behind the we're only a sports network defense.
I can't say this enough. I did not vote for Trump, but there is a clear double standard at ESPN. Right now, 9:58 on Wednesday, September 13, 2017, the Top Story is Jon Jones (UFC) is stripped of his title. The second story is Fenway Park Officials Confiscate Racism Banner. Is that really a bigger story in sports than the Cleveland Indians 21 game winning streak? Longest in 100 years for non-baseball aficionados.
No, it's not.