There is a reason Jemele Hill has not deleted the tweet that almost got her fired from ESPN. Five months later, it’s still live on her account: “Donald Trump is a white supremacist who has largely surrounded himself w/ other white supremacists.”
“I did not expect in that moment that it was going to become what it became,” Hill said during a stint as guest host on The View Wednesday morning. In the days and weeks that followed, she was condemned by both ESPN and President Trump, and White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders called her comments a “fireable offense.”
Asked by co-host Meghan McCain if she still stands by what she said—and whether she thinks Trump’s supporters are white supremacists—Hill replied, “I still stand by what I said,” but adding, “I don’t think that his supporters are white supremacists.”
“What I would say, though, is that they have the benefit and privilege to be able to distance and disassociate themselves from certain issues,” she added. “Me, as a woman of color, I feel vulnerable to certain behaviors, certain policies, certain things that he’s said and done. And so all of that was part of that response, feeling that vulnerability. If it doesn’t impact you directly or if you don’t feel that, it’s probably harder for you to understand it.”
Hill asked those who do support the president to understand that she is not trying to “call them out” but rather to explain that “people of color are under attack.”
Then came what McCain evidently thought was a trick question: Would Hill consider Ben Carson a “white supremacist?”
“No, I wouldn’t,” Hill said. While she stands by her tweet that Trump is “surrounded” by white supremacists, she says she didn’t mean everyone around him, but rather those who have “at the very least played footsie with white supremacists.”
A month after Hill came under fire for tweeting about the president, she received a two-week suspension from ESPN for another tweet—this one about Trump supporter and Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. After Jones said he would punish players for kneeling during the national anthem, Hill suggested going after the NFL’s advertisers.
“No, I probably wouldn’t do that again,” Hill admitted. “Twitter’s not a good place for nuance. And I wasn’t specifically calling for a boycott of the NFL or of Jerry Jones, but I understand how it could be interpreted that way.”
“And let’s just keep it 100, my employer is in business with the NFL,” she added. “So I very much understood why I was suspended.”
If she had to do it again, Hill says she wouldn’t have made those remarks on Twitter and instead would have asked ESPN if she could write a column on the issue “with more breadth and more depth.”
We’ll never know if they would have allowed her to express her opinions on that subject in that format.