- Paras Griffin/Getty Images for BET
It turns out ESPN may have tried to punish “SC6” anchor Jemele Hill after all.
A new report from ThinkProgress cites two sources who say that ESPN’s original plan was to take Hill off the air for one night due to her comments calling President Donald Trump “a white supremacist who has largely surrounded himself [with] other white supremacists.”
However, according to the report, when “SC6” co-host Michael Smith heard the news, he refused to do the show without her. The sources say that ESPN then tried to replace both hosts with two other black hosts but were rebuffed.
“ESPN originally tried to keep Hill off the air on Wednesday evening, but Smith refused to do the show without her, the sources said. Both sources also said that producers reached out to two other black ESPN hosts, Michael Eaves and Elle Duncan, to ask them to serve as fill-ins for the show – but Eaves and Duncan did not agree to take the place of Hill and Smith, either.”
Hill and Smith did ultimately host the show. According to the report, ESPN asked Hill to come back after they failed to find a replacement.
A source from ESPN emphatically told Business Insider that they never asked any other anchors to host Wednesday’s show.
“We never asked any other anchors to do last night’s show. Period,” the spokesperson said.
As ThinkProgress points out, Eaves sent out a tweet 90 minutes before the 6:00 p.m. show which may be linked to what was going on behind the scenes.
Man.. this day got me like..
— Michael Eaves (@michaeleaves) September 13, 2017
Rob King, the senior vice president for SportsCenter and news told ThinkProgress that Hill hosting the show is ultimately what they wanted.
“Yesterday was a hard and unusual day, with a number of people interpreting the day without a full picture that happened,” King said. “In the end, ultimately, Michael and Jemele appearing on the show last night and doing the show the way they did is the outcome we always desired.”
It is unclear if King’s “we” is referring to ESPN in general or the folks at “SportsCenter” specifically.
Hill has not apologized for her comments on Twitter nor has she deleted them. However, she did issue a statement saying she regrets that her comments “painted ESPN in an unfair light.”
— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) September 14, 2017
Hill’s agent did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider.