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The Blue & Gray Press | December 14, 2017

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White House should stay out of Jemele Hill tweeting controversy

White House should stay out of Jemele Hill tweeting controversy

By ALLISON TOVEY

Staff Writer

On Monday Sept. 11, Jemele Hill, a host of ESPN’s SportsCenter, posted a series of tweets speaking out about Donald Trump and the bigotry that he has expressed time and time again.

Hill tweeted out “Donald Trump is a white supremacist who has largely surrounded himself [with] other white supremacists.”

She continued her rant with two more tweets.

“The height of white privilege is being able to ignore his white supremacy, because it’s of no threat to you… Well, it’s a threat to me,” said Hill.

There was a lot of backlash from the public over Hill’s tweets, and ESPN released an official statement: “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.”

This is not in any way a unique case. People are fired over what they say or interact with on social media all the time. This is not censorship per se, but it is understood that those representing a company, school, etc. can risk their position by posting controversial and polarizing content.

What sets this apart though is that the White House is pushing for Hill to be fired for her criticism of the White House. When asked for a comment about the tweets at a White House briefing that Wednesday, Trump’s press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders called Hill’s tweets “a fireable offense.”

Trump and his administration are no strangers to the silencing and demonizing of those in the public eye speaking out against the bigotry that Trump promotes and encourages. His constant dismissal of criticism from the media as “fake news” has been made into a joke but really, that is a very scary way for anyone in authority to act.

Trump’s history of bullying and delegitimizing those in opposition to him and news sources that don’t endorse him is frightening behavior from somebody who is supposed to be the President.

In the case of Jemele Hill, the White House’s suggesting towards her firing over her criticism of Trump is incredibly unfair and telling of Trump’s future interactions with negative press. Media figures are fired for controversial statements all the time but for the White House to actively try to silence the criticism of Hill and others is flat-out oppressive.

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