Jemele Hill Suspended: ESPN Host Called for Fans to Boycott NFL Advertisers, Jerry Jones

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ESPN columnist Jemele Hill attends ESPN The Party on February 5, 2016 in San Francisco, California.

ESPN announced Monday that it suspended host Jemele Hill for two weeks after she violated the company’s social media guidelines.

The company released a statement announcing her suspension because “she previously acknowledged letting her colleagues and company down with an impulsive tweet.” Tweets sent about boycotting the NFL’s advertisers and Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones appear to have been the final straw for the company.

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On Sunday, Hill sent a string of tweets critical of the NFL and Jones. She encouraged football fans to boycott the league and its advertisers in the tweet string below. Some of those advertisers are the same that run on ESPN. Her tweets came after Jones announced that any player on the Cowboys who “disrespects” the national anthem and American flag would not be allowed to play.

Hill’s two-week suspension comes just weeks after she drew criticism from the White House for calling President Donald Trump a “white supremacist” for his response to racially-motivated violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. ESPN subsequently issued a statement after the remarks, saying they “do not represent the position of ESPN.”

Later on, Hill said she stood by her beliefs but her “regret is that (her) comments and the public way (she) made them painted ESPN in an unfair light.”

When questioned about Hill’s comments, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders called them a “fireable offense,” and Trump demanded an apology.

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According to ESPN’s “social networking” guidelines, released August 2011, the company “will hold all talent who participate in social networking to the same standards we hold for interaction with our audiences across TV, radio and our digital platforms.”

The specific guidelines encourage employees to “think before you tweet and re-tweet.”

“All posted contend must be consistent with ESPN’s employee policies and Editorial Guidelines for Standards & Practices,” the policy says. “This includes existing Commentary and Media Criticism guidelines, and posts should not include any references to personal endorsements, promotions and business relationships.”

Read the complete social media guidelines below:

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This isn’t Hill’s first time being suspended by the sports network, though. During the 2008 NBA Playoffs, she was suspended after referencing Adolf Hitler in an article about the Boston Celtics and Detroit Pistons, describing why she couldn’t support the Celtics.

“Rooting for the Celtics is like saying Hitler was a victim,” she wrote. “It’s like hoping Gorbachev would get to the blinking red button before Reagan. Deserving or not, I still hate the Celtics.”

Hill received a one-week suspension and issued an apology afterward.

Hill joined ESPN in 2006 as a columnist on ESPN.com and made appearances on various show on the sports network, including SportsCenter and First Take. In February, she was promoted to be an evening anchor on the 6 p.m. Eastern edition of SportsCenter alongside Michael Smith.


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