ESPN earlier this week suspended Jemele Hill after she suggested those unhappy with Jerry Jones should boycott Dallas Cowboys sponsors. In a statement, ESPN said Hill’s suspension was due to a second violation of the company’s social media guidelines.
Compare Jemele’s comments to these to comments made on-air by Wendi Nix in 2015, after Deadspin published disturbing post-abuse police pictures showing injuries sustained by Greg Hardy’s girlfriend. Nix called for sponsors and fans to “let their dollars vote” by putting pressure on Jones.
Nix’s commentary is remarkably similar to Hill’s in content and did not result in any discipline. Obviously, the climate was significantly different in 2015. ESPN’s every move was not being scrutinized by actors from both sides trying to prove the existence — or lack thereof — of an agenda.
If anything, Nix went further, specifically naming sponsors that included AT&T, American Airlines, and MillerCoors.
Nix’s strong stance did air on television, not on social media, meaning a much larger initial reach but also an increased likelihood it disappears into the ether. A television segment can slip by watchful eyes more easily than a tweet, which lasts forever.
On his show yesterday, Dan Le Batard spoke to this.
“If you’re going to get in trouble at ESPN, they’d prefer you get in trouble on their air.” he said. “They don’t want you to get in trouble but at least things are vetted there. Twitter has created something here where everyone’s got a voice on things, that can be interpreted as political. The company doesn’t want you in political waters on this stuff, and when you’re on Twitter inevitably you’re representing this company.”
However, ESPN did promote this Nix segment heavily and moved the snippet to their website–certainly not something they do for every minute of content on its airwaves–and profited from viewers who consumed Nix’s advice to pursue the money.
Here, if you had not seen them, are the substantive tweets which led to Hill’s discipline.