Jemele Hill needed an ESPN newsroom revolt to keep her on the air after calling President Donald Trump a "white supremacist" on Twitter earlier this week, the liberal-leaning ThinkProgress reported.
ThinkProgress said ESPN attempted and failed to pull Hill, a popular black "Sports Center" host, off the air on Wednesday after White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders called her comments a "fireable offense."
On Friday morning, Trump slammed ESPN in a tweet demanding the network issue an apology for an "untruth."
According to two sources, Think Progress said, ESPN asked Michael Eaves and Elle Duncan, both African-Americans, to fill Hill's duties Wednesday, but both refused. Michael Smith, Hill's long-time on-air partner, also refused to do "Sports Center" without her.
The Washington Post said, confronted with a situation in which it might have to replace both Hill and Smith with white hosts, ESPN asked her to join him on the air on Wednesday, per ThinkProgress. The pair also hosted Thursday’s 6 p.m. “SportsCenter.”
ESPN denied the account to the Post, saying in a statement on Thursday: "We never asked any other anchors to do last night's show. Period."
Hill slammed Trump in a series of tweets on Monday.
Eaves issued his own mysterious email that appeared to be related to the situation midday Wednesday.
ESPN issued a lengthier statement addressing Hill's tweet messages about Trump.
"Jemele has a right to her personal opinions, but not to publicly share them on a platform that implies that she was in any way speaking on behalf of ESPN," the broadcaster's statement said. "She has acknowledged that her tweets crossed that line and has apologized for doing so. We accept her apology."
Hill issued her own statement late Wednesday.
The National Association of Black Journalists, an advocacy group for African-American journalists, issued a statement Wednesday in support of Hill.
"… the National Association of Black Journalists supports Hill's First Amendment rights on all matters of discussion, within and outside the world of sports, as they do not impinge on her duties as a host and commentator."
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