Montini: Does ESPN have a racial double standard?

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Jemele Hill was reprimanded for calling Trump a white supremacist. Curt Schilling was fired for making similar comments.

EJ Montini: A decision to fire or simply reprimand an employee over a statement isn't necessarily black and white. Or is it?

Every American has the right to speak his or her mind, and that would include the hosts and commentators on ESPN.

When the on-air personalities appear on the big-time sports network, the talk is all sports.

But the men and women who host the programs and offer game analysis also are citizens, and most have personal social media accounts through which they speak to other citizens about other issues.

Sometimes, executives at ESPN come to believe that what its employees say on those social media accounts is controversial enough to do harm (by association) to the network.

That could get a person fired.

 

But not always, as happened with ESPN host Jemele Hill, who was reprimanded by the network this week for calling President Donald Trump a “white supremacist.”

It makes an outsider wonder how much the race of the offender plays into ESPN’s decisions.

A while back former Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Curt Schilling, who had worked as a baseball analyst at the network for years, was fired over ugly social media postings about transgender individuals. (He also had nasty things to say about Hillary Clinton.)

After dismissing Schilling, the network issued a statement saying, “ESPN is an inclusive company. Curt Schilling has been advised that his conduct was unacceptable and his employment with ESPN has been terminated.”

He deserved it.

Schilling, as you probably know, is white.

 

Earlier this week, ESPN host Jemele Hill, a black woman, got into an angry exchange on Twitter in which she called President Donald Trump a “bigot” and “the most ignorant” president in history and a “white supremacist who has largely surrounded himself w/ other white supremacists.”

Hill, unlike Schilling, received a reprimand.

A punishment that seems a little … generous.

The network tweeted:

A business like ESPN gets to decide what is "unacceptable" and what is merely "inappropriate."

The rest of us get to decide if that network is being consistent, or if its decisions are not entirely based on policy and principles (or even simple economics) but on something else.

The answer isn’t necessarily black and white.

Or is it?

 

 

 

 

 

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