White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that ESPN commentator Jemele Hill’s tweets calling President Donald Trump a white supremacist were a “fireable offense” at a press conference on Wednesday.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders calls Jemele Hill's comments 'a fireable offense.' pic.twitter.com/M0wYyZuNUp— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) September 13, 2017
Sanders was responding to a question about whether the president had seen Hill’s Monday night tweets in which the sports commentator, who is a black woman, called Trump “the most ignorant, offensive president of my lifetime” and “a white supremacist who has largely surrounded himself w/ other white supremacists.” “If,” Hill continued, “he were not white, he never would have been elected.”
When asked by Washington Post Reporter David Nakamura about the tweets, Sanders said, “I’m not sure [Trump is] aware, but I think that’s one of the more outrageous comments that anyone could make and certainly something I think is a fireable offense by ESPN.”
ESPN responded to Hill’s tweets in a statement Tuesday, saying, “The comments on Twitter from Jemele Hill regarding the President do not represent the position of ESPN. We have addressed this with Jemele and she recognizes her actions were inappropriate.” The tweets have not been deleted, and Hill still works for ESPN.
Following Sanders’s comment, many on Twitter expressed horror at the idea that the White House would encourage ESPN to fire someone for criticizing the president.
Today, the White House press secretary used the people's podium to call for the firing of an individual citizen, @jemelehill. Take that in.— Joy Reid (@JoyAnnReid) September 13, 2017
Free speech means folks like @jemelehill should be able to criticize POTUS without the WH coming for their jobs. https://t.co/UHPyt9vLoI— Adam Serwer (@AdamSerwer) September 13, 2017
The White House is more offended by someone using the term white supremacist than someone being a white supremacist https://t.co/3qTvPgKSRw— Jessica Valenti (@JessicaValenti) September 13, 2017