Jemele Hill continues to double, triple and quadruple down on her tweets from September calling President Trump a “white supremacist,” a “bigot” and “unfit to be president.”
Last month, Hill joined former NFL running back Arian Foster’s podcast called Now What? and told Foster “I said what I said and I don’t take it back,” Hill said on the podcast. “Like I ain’t getting a retraction. No, I never have and I never will.”
This week, Hill went on Richard Deitsch’s podcast where she was asked about her tweets from September and using Twitter as a medium for her opinions in general. Deitsch phrased the question differently than others, not asking if she regrets sharing her opinions, but does she regret the “specific language” she used?
“I have more regrets about the medium. Most of us find out every day in some form or fashion that Twitter is not necessarily a place for nuance. Twitter’s not even really a place where if you want to have some extensive conversation, especially about race, Twitter’s not set up for that. It’s built on quick thoughts, okay, and that’s not something to have quick thoughts about. So I don’t really have any regrets about the language that I used, because I do think that there is some evidence to at least where we can question some of the things that he’s said and done, and for that matter, examine why there are clearly large groups of people, women, people of color, who feel they’re very vulnerable at this time and under attack. I don’t regret what I said or even the language that I used.”
“It’s just the where. The where is problematic because, of course, there are these problems that are going to be created because of who I represent and who I work for. And that’s just not a conversation that people are accustomed to someone in my position having, especially not in an open forum. And I’ve often wondered, if I were on a panel discussion at Harvard and said the same thing, would it have resonated the same way? Because I do think now that Twitter’s become what it’s become, it’s an easy place to search tweets and create headlines and create sort of this think piece-like environment for other media entities.”
“And I think timing is everything, and I regret the timing too, because there is, and I’ve mentioned this before and talked to you about this before, the timing of especially where and how ESPN is being viewed by a lot of people, those are things that in a forum like that, it’s just not going to go over well. So, as I’ve said before, I don’t take anything back from what I said, I’ve been very consistent in that message, but I do think the environment lends itself to it drawing more attention than it was probably worth.”
ESPN doesn’t seem to take issue with Hill discussing her opinions on different podcasts, so had she never tweeted her thoughts on the president, would it have become such a mainstream hot topic? If she joined a podcast in September and said she felt President Trump was a white supremacist, it’s hard to imagine the opinion would have gone ignored.
The focus for ESPN regarding its talent sharing their political opinions has been about Twitter. Opinionated tweets spread faster than an opinionated thought shared on a podcast. Shortly before John Skipper resigned from ESPN, he held a meeting in December with ESPN employees to discuss the networks social media policy.
ESPN employees are expected to act “civil, responsible and without overt political or other biases that would threaten our or your credibility with the public.” The network also reserves “the right to take action for violations of these principles.”
The interesting question is what happens when Hill shares a political opinion in the future, whether it be on Twitter or another social media platform. ESPN hasn’t told her to stop discussing her previous tweets, but would they take issue with future tweets offering new beliefs?
Jason Barrett is the owner and operator of Barrett Sports Media. Prior to launching BSM he served as a sports radio programmer, launching brands such as 95.7 The Game in San Francisco and 101 ESPN in St. Louis. He has also produced national shows for ESPN Radio including GameNight and the Dan Patrick Show. You can find him on Twitter @SportsRadioPD or reach him by email at JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com.
Greg Olsen Can Leave FOX For Another Network
“When Tom Brady is ready, that chair is his.”
Now that Tom Brady’s playing career is officially over, plenty of people are talking about what comes next. He has a contract from FOX on the table that will put him in the network’s top NFL booth when he is ready. What that means for Greg Olsen remains unclear.
Olsen has won plenty of fans this season. Last week, he told ESPN 1000 that he is a “big boy” and he “knew what he signed up for” when he was elevated to the top slot at the network alongside Kevin Burkhardt. When Tom Brady is ready, that chair is his.
Plenty have speculated that FOX could go with a three-man booth. That way the network gets the benefits of both Brady’s star power and Olsen’s ability to dissect a game.
There is another option for Greg Olsen though according to Andrew Marchand. The New York Post writer reports that Olsen can opt out of his contract at FOX and join another network if he is offered a job.
Olsen cannot take just anything. He can only pursue a job in another network’s top booth if offered. That spot is locked up for every network with an NFL TV deal currently, but it won’t be forever and Greg Olsen has proven his worth to the broadcasting world this season.
“He could end up being this generation’s Cris Collinsworth, having a long, lucrative career, despite not having played quarterback or for the Cowboys or in New York,’ Marchand writes. “People love an underdog — especially if the person delivers.”
While Tom Brady will eventually be Kevin Burkhardt’s partner, it will not happen on February 12th. FOX is sticking with Burkhardt and Olsen to call Super Bowl LVII.
Molly Qerim: Stephen A. Smith and I Have Never Had a Mike and the Mad Dog-Style Fight
“We’re definitely annoyed at each other for times. There were times when we were very, very annoyed.”
Mike and the Mad Dog were celebrated on First Take Wednesday morning for their legendary careers. One topic that came up was their legendary fights, with host Molly Qerim saying — luckily — she’s never had that issue arise with Stephen A. Smith.
Nearing the conclusion of the episode, Qerim pointed out how ridiculous some of the arguments between Mike Francesa and Chris “Mad Dog” Russo became, bringing up the legendary discussion about the restrooms at Fenway Park and Yankee Stadium.
“You guys would debate everything, even bathrooms,” Qerim said. “You really debated bathrooms.”
Francesa and Russo then discussed how the bathroom discussion led to months of silence, where they did not speak to each other outside of the show for more than five months, before Francesa’s wife invited Russo to their wedding, which eventually squashed the beef.
“Think about it. If you two (Smith and Qerim) did not get along, and for five months and you walked in here and didn’t talk to each other either before, during or after (the show),” Russo said. “That’s hard to pull off.”
“We never did that,” replied Qerim. “We’re definitely annoyed at each other at times. There were times when we were very, very annoyed.”
Francesa asked Qerim and Smith if they’d ever had “a real fight” with both immediately responding no.
Smith did note — somewhat jokingly — that he had felt “very bruised” from time to time by Qerim.
Kevin Negandhi: I’m the Same on SportsCenter As I Am In Real Life
“I’ve always just tried to find that blend where I can be respectful for the audience and have a good time and have fun delivering highlights.”
Kevin Negandhi has been one of the hosts of the 6:00 PM ET SportsCenter on ESPN over the last few years. Even in this prominent role, Negandhi takes great pride in making sure the viewer is being entertained and getting an escape from the real world, at least for an hour.
Negandhi was a guest on The Adam Schein Podcast this week and Schein asked him how he would describe his broadcast style. He wanted to make it clear that if you met him on the street, he is the same person that you see on ESPN.
“I’m the person that you would meet casually, I’m the same person on TV. I’ve always said that I represent not just my family, not just where I’m from, I represent the passion of the great area and region that is Philadelphia. When you see me on TV, I feel like I’m letting you into a conversation I would normally have with you if we were talking about something. You are here for an escape, let’s talk about it because I got in the business because I passionately love sports. It was my connection with my family growing up. Connection with my family still to this day. It’s kind of like get in with us.”
Whenever Negandhi is hosting SportsCenter, he told Schein he tries to find a good mix of giving the highlights and the news while also understanding that the viewer is looking to be entertained as well.
“I’ve always just tried to find that blend where I can be respectful for the audience and have a good time and have fun delivering highlights and delivering the news and making sure you are entertained but at the same time understanding that I’m having fun with you while you are watching us as an escape.”
One other broadcaster that stands out for not being just a broadcaster according to Negandhi is Scott Van Pelt because Van Pelt is comfortable being himself and doesn’t have a filter.
“Scott Van Pelt really stands out to me because when you watch Scott, there is no filter with Scott. He’s not a broadcaster. Scott is Scott and he is comfortable in his skin.”
Ricky Keeler is a reporter for BSM with a primary focus on sports media podcasts and national personalities. He is also an active podcaster with an interest in pursuing a career in sports media. You can find him on Twitter @Rickinator555 or reach him by email at RickJKeeler@gmail.com.