No, Jemele Hill shouldn’t be fired.
Neither should Linda Cohn.
On Tuesday, militantly boring ESPN host Hill dropped a few political bombs on Twitter:
ESPN quickly responded with this statement:
Meanwhile, longtime anchor Linda Cohn was reportedly suspended from ESPN for sounding off on ESPN’s politics:
There are two points to be made here. First, ESPN has long been a leftist outlet; there’s a reason I’ve termed it MSNBC with footballs. As I wrote earlier this year:
From giving Caitlyn Jenner a heroism award to stumping for Black Lives Matter, from pushing gun control to praising Kaepernick’s heroism, from firing Curt Schilling for expressing anti-radical Islam sentiments to threatening Chris Broussard for taking a religious view of homosexuality while doing nothing about Kevin Blackistone for calling the national anthem a “war anthem,” ESPN has become — as I’ve long said — MSNBC with footballs.
ESPN’s public editor, Jim Brady, admitted ESPN’s political bias back in November:
Internally, there’s a feeling among many staffers — both liberal and conservative — that the company’s perceived move leftward has had a stifling effect on discourse inside the company and has affected its public-facing product. Consumers have sensed that same leftward movement, alienating some. ... For most of its history, ESPN was viewed relatively apolitically. Its core focus was — and remains today, of course — sports. Although the nature of sports meant an occasional detour into politics and culture was inevitable, there wasn’t much chatter about an overall perceived political bias. If there was any tension internally, it didn’t manifest itself publicly.
That’s why ESPN is suspending Cohn but not Hill — Hill represents what the ESPN brass believe is their growing minority demographic among viewers, while Cohn represents a shrinking demographic of white viewers. The ESPN heavies agree with Hill; they disagree with Cohn, and think she undermines their social justice positions.
Some on the Right, angry with Hill, have called for her suspension or firing. That would be understandable for business reasons — ESPN would have every right to take the position that Hill had alienated half of their audience, and thereby undercut their revenue model. But on principle grounds, Hill shouldn’t lose her job: she’s a sports anchor who sounded off on politics, and she’s been given a mandate by the brass to talk politics in precisely the way she did. Other ESPN hosts have spoken out in similar fashion. She and her equally uninspiring co-host, Michael Smith, speak politically routinely, which is one of the reasons their show is nearly unwatchable.
Which means that the same should hold true for Cohn. Cohn hasn’t been nearly as political on television. She has kept her opinions largely to herself, other than speaking out in interviews on ESPN’s increasing politicization. If ESPN is willing to let Hill off the hook, it should certainly leave Cohn alone.
But ESPN won’t. As always, the non-left-winger will pay the price. Just ask Mike Ditka, Chris Broussard, Curt Schilling, and every other quasi-conservative who’s had the temerity to say anything that doesn’t parrot Bernie Sanders on-air.