Jemele Hill became a household name after she called President Donald Trump “a white supremacist” last year. She, along with Michael Smith, hosted the network’s flagship show SportsCenter, but Hill left the show last month. She joined ESPN’s The Undefeated, one of the company’s digital properties that focuses on the intersections of race, sports and culture, but is not on air. Now, Michael Smith is speaking out.
On the podcast Origins, he revealed after Hill’s comments about Trump, ESPN didn’t allow him them to engage on camera, which was bizarre, considering SportsCenter was known for their dynamic chemistry. “No more Michael and Jemele talking. No more of their commentary. It’s just strictly live shots and analysts. That’s what pissed me off so much.” The host explained, “I’m like, so wait a second, you all acknowledge that one of the strengths that we have going for us as a show is Michael and Jemele’s chemistry, but Michael and Jemele don’t f**king talk to each other? How does that make sense?”
Michael says it was ESPN’s intention to silence both of them, especially with the change in the show’s format by bringing on Norby Williamson, who wanted to make sure the two did not upset viewers. “It was very frustrating, behind the scenes and on camera. … They got what they wanted, which was Michael and Jemele being muted. And that frustrated the s**t out of us.”
Michael Smith is still a host for SportsCenter, but judging by these comments, his days are more than likely numbered.
Just a reminder, Jemele Hill and Michael Smith made history being the first all-Black anchor team on SportsCenter. After Hill’s comments about Trump, ESPN suspended her for two weeks, prompting civil rights activists and celebrities to rally for her. Side-note: ESPN personality Katie Nolan called Trump “a f**king a stupid person!” earlier this month. Nolan was “reprimanded,” but stayed on the air and avoided suspension, unlike Hill.
We are sure Hill and Smith will continue to do big things. No one can take away the history they made.