Jemele Hill to Exit ESPN With Buyout From Sporting Network

Departure will come 12 months after Hill called President Trump a white supremacist on Twitter

ESPN and one of its star commentators, Jemele Hill, are parting ways.

Hill is expected to exit the company amicably as of Sept. 1, after the two sides have reportedly reached terms for Hill’s buyout, an insider told TheWrap.

Hill Tweeted on Sunday that she will be on ESPN’s “Highly Questionable” with Dan le Batard this week.

ESPN declined to comment.

Hill’s departure comes nearly a year after the ESPN host was criticized for calling President Donald Trump “a white supremacist who has largely surrounded himself with other white supremacists” within a conversation thread on Twitter.

In January, Hill left the 6 p.m. program of SportsCenter, “The Six,” that she hosted with Michael Smith. Hill had transitioned to a role as a writer for ESPN’s website The Undefeated and as an on-air commentator.

The move — positioned as a decision made by Hill to return to her writing roots — came as detractors called for Hill’s firing. Disney CEO Robert Iger against that, saying at the time, “A little empathy in that regard would go a long way. I felt we needed to take into account what Jemele and other people at ESPN were feeling at this time. That resulted in us not taking action on the tweet that she put out.”

ESPN later suspended Hill after she suggested that NFL fans boycott brands and companies that advertise with Dallas Cowboys, whose owner Jerry Jones, said he would bench any player who took a knee during the National Anthem before games.

Incidentally, some of the brands that were later pointed out on Twitter also advertised with ESPN.

New ESPN president, Jimmy Pitaro, said last week that the network is not a political organization, though it has been criticized for its perceived political views. In May 2017, ESPN commissioned third-party research to look at what many believe is its liberal bias. The study found that about 64 percent of ESPN viewers thought the network does a good job of mixing sports and politics.

In the months after President Trump was elected, however, ESPN Public Editor Jim Brady addressed how the network has dealt with changing and intensifying political dynamics.

“As it turns out, ESPN is far from immune from the political fever that has afflicted so much of the country over the past year,” Brady wrote in a company post. “Internally, there’s a feeling among 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 products. Consumers have sensed that same leftward movement, alienating some.”