ESPN public editor Jim Brady is “a bit perplexed” by the network’s decision to suspend commentator Jemele Hill over her tweet about advertiser boycotts. He admitted that he did not know how Hill’s tweets broke ESPN’s social media policy. In response to Dallas Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones’ comments indicating he would bench players who are “disrespecting the flag,” Hill tweeted, “Change happens when advertisers are impacted. If you feel strongly about JJ’s statement, boycott his advertisers.”
While Brady wrote this week that he understands why ESPN wasn’t happy with Hill’s tweets given that the NFL and the sports network share advertisers, he argued ESPN shouldn’t make decisions based on business relationships.
“It shouldn’t matter whether Hill’s comments put ESPN in a bad position with the NFL, any more than with the network’s excellent reporting on concussions that has done the same,” Brady wrote. Further, he called for more transparency from ESPN in explaining why exactly she got in trouble. When contacted by iMediaEthics, ESPN declined to comment on the record beyond its initial statement announcing Hill’s suspension.
ESPN's Statement on Jemele Hill: pic.twitter.com/JkVoBVz7lv
— ESPN PR (@ESPNPR) October 9, 2017
Brady previously criticized Hill’s controversial tweets last month — in which she called Donald Trump a white supremacist and a bigot — but in his latest take on Hill’s comments, he differentiated between those tweets and the NFL boycott tweets.
“There’s a big difference between a journalist putting ESPN in a journalistic bind and putting it in a business bind,” Brady argued. “Hill’s Trump tweets were raw meat for those who feel ESPN has drifted too far left politically, and they raised questions about how far ESPN journalists should go when expressing their personal views. But Hill’s Sunday tweets trod into a sandbox journalists aren’t supposed to worry about — the one that houses ESPN’s business relationships.”
That said, Brady stood by his September criticism of Hill’s Trump tweets in which he said she “made an error in judgment,” writing that calling Trump a white supremacist is inflammatory and instead she and other journalists should “show, don’t tell.”
iMediaEthics has tweeted Hill to see if she has a response to Brady’s latest column.