White House: ESPN should fire Detroit’s Jemele Hill

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Two days after ESPN anchor and Detroit native Jemele Hill made national headlines by calling President Trump a "white supremacist," the White House responded — and seemed to call for her firing.

At a White House briefing Wednesday, Trump press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders called Hill's comment "outrageous" and a "fireable offense."

“That is one of the more outrageous comments that anybody could make and certainly is something that is a fireable offense by ESPN,” Sanders said, according to comments published by The Hill website.

ESPN has not immediately responded to the White House's statement.

Hill, 41, attended Mumford High School and Michigan State, before working at the Detroit Free Press. She currently co-anchors the 6 p.m. "SportsCenter," alongside Michael Smith.

Before ascending to the "SportsCenter" chair in February, Hill and Smith co-hosted "His & Hers" on weekday mornings.

Hill has not returned a message from The News requesting comment.

A series of tweets on Monday, Sept. 11, drew the ire of many — and eventually the White House.

On Tuesday, ESPN issued a statement calling the tweets "inappropriate," and saying Hill recognizes that. ESPN said Hill was reprimanded, but the details of such punishment have not been shared.

ESPN calls Jemele Hill’s Trump comments ‘inappropriate’

Hill has had her supporters during the tumultuous few days, too, including quarterback Colin Kaepernick, among others.

ESPN has been criticized for months for how often their employees feel inclined to share their political opinions.

With the political scene reaching a fever pitch, thanks in large part to the nastiness of the Hillary Clinton-Trump presidential campaign, ESPN created new employee guidelines for how and when to discuss politics in the public arena, though it stopped far short of prohibiting such dialogue.

Specifically, ESPN has told its hard-news reporters to keep their political opinions to themselves, but the network is much more lax with analysts and those who are paid to provide opinion and commentary. While hosting "SportsCenter" used to be a "news" job, it has evolved over the years, and especially under Hill and Smith, who have been heavily encouraged by ESPN brass to tackle the issues of the day, and not always just sports, from a more analytical standpoint.

Many news outlets across the nation are dealing with the same issues with employees, even sports employees, who struggle with whether the long yet unofficial "stick to sports" rules still should apply.

Hill has also worked for the Raleigh (N.C.) News & Observer and the Orlando Sentinel.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Hill's tweets about Trump have not been deleted.