Sports journalist Jemele Hill recently opened up about leaving the “conservative culture” at ESPN that prompted her departure from the network following an infamous tweet concerning Donald Trump.
“I wasn’t a good fit for the ‘SportsCenter’ culture. Definitely not a good fit for the management that was overseeing ‘SportsCenter’ at the time. And I got tired. I got really tired of fighting everyday to be myself,” Hill said Thursday on Kenny Mayne’s podcast, “Hey Mayne.”
After joining ESPN in 2006 as a columnist, she began co-hosting the “His & Hers” podcast in 2011 alongside Michael Smith. In 2013, Hill and Smith were promoted to evening anchors of “SportsCenter” in February 2017.
“By far ‘SportsCenter’ was the most high-profile job I’ve had at ESPN,” Hill said. “It was the best-paying job I had at ESPN. But it’s also the worst job I had at ESPN.”
Hill says that after she was given the gig, she was advised by many of the network’s anchors including; Mayne, Mike Greenberg, and Scott Van Pelt to “Don’t let them change you.”
“Giving us this advice there’s an implicit warning that’s in there, too. That became really evident very quickly,” Hill said. “So we were already having some creative issues with (management) before Donald Trump…Once that happened and my tweet and all the fallout and the controversy, that just sped up something that was already I think in process.”
If you recall, back in September of 2017, Hill called Trump “a white supremacist” in a series of tweets. ESPN responded that Hill’s views “do not represent the position of ESPN,” and just a month later was suspended for commenting on Dallas Cowboys advertisers after owner Jerry Jones said he’d bench players who knelt during the anthem.
She also claimed that ESPN often tries to straddle both sides of the conservative vs. liberal fence.
“It’s a conservative culture at ESPN and so this idea that ESPN is being run by flower children is just a lie,” Hill said. “That’s not how it is. It’s the opposite, if anything. As you know all too well.”
She continued: “Once (critics) started seeing my face, Michael’s face become more prominent…then suddenly ESPN is too liberal because what they’re really trying to say is ‘Oh, y’all must be liberal-leaning because you got all these women and all these Black people who are suddenly on my TV everyday. So that means that this company has certainly given in to a brigade of liberalism.’”
Hill left SportsCenter in January of 2018 to join “Undefeated,” and left the network entirely later that same year in October.