Jemele Hill, cohost of ESPN’s The Six, has been suspended for two weeks for “a second violation of [ESPN’s] social media guidelines,” according to the network.
Hill reportedly violated the guidelines Sunday night when she suggested that the best way for people to disagree with Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was through Dallas’s advertisers.
ESPN says it suspended Hill because 1) she suggested boycotting ESPN sponsors; and 2) she had been warned about these types of tweets.— John Ourand (@Ourand_SBJ) October 9, 2017
Earlier in the day, Jones said that the Cowboys would sit out a game if there is “anything that is disrespectful to the flag.” Jones has previously stated his desire for players to stand during the national anthem, and though the team—including Jones—interlocked arms and knelt before the anthem prior to their Week 3 Monday Night Football matchup against the Cardinals, no Cowboy has knelt during the playing of the song. Jones’s comments represented the most strident opposition to the trend of players protesting during the national anthem by an NFL owner so far.
Hill quoted a tweet that listed some of the Cowboys’ advertisers—including AT&T, Bank of America, MillerCoors, and PepsiCo—and added that “change happens when advertisers are impacted.”
This play always work. Change happens when advertisers are impacted. If you feel strongly about JJ's statement, boycott his advertisers. https://t.co/LFXJ9YQe74— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) October 9, 2017
She later clarified that she was “not advocating an NFL boycott.” As noted above by Sports Business Journal reporter John Ourand, some Cowboys sponsors are also advertisers on ESPN platforms. ESPN would not say whether Hill’s suspension will be with pay.
The suspension comes less than a month after Hill called President Donald Trump a “white supremacist” on Twitter. Hill apologized for how those comments affected the network and her colleagues but stood by them, and White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders called them “a fireable offense.”
Hill’s suspension represents the latest chapter in the entanglement of sports and politics that has defined this NFL season. As The Ringer’s Bryan Curtis noted last month in his profile of Hill, ESPN has been “pulled … into a political vortex” that often sees someone like Hill—who is vocal about her political opinions on social media, even if those same thoughts aren’t always reflected on SC6, the show she cohosts with Michael Smith—as the focal point of the left/right media debate.
It’s worth noting the timing of Hill’s suspension. Hill hadn’t stopped tweeting about Trump, protests, or politics since she was reprimanded by ESPN in September, and it was apparently her suggestion to boycott some sponsors that also advertise on ESPN, not Hill’s normal political commentary, which drove the company to take action.