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RIP free speech? An ESPN anchor criticized Trump and now the White House wants her fired

In a stunning move that smacks of censorship, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said on Wednesday that ESPN’s Jemele Hill should be fired for tweets criticizing Trump and calling the president a white supremacist.

Speaking at the White House daily press briefing, Sanders said of Hill’s comments, “I think that’s one of the more outrageous comments that anyone could make and certainly something that’s a fireable offense by ESPN.”

This all started on Monday night when Hill criticized bizarre comments made by crud rocker and potential Michigan senatorial candidate Kid Roc. The conversation, of course, turned to Trump in the replies and that’s when Hill lambasted Trump, calling him a white supremacist.

Hill went on, calling Trump “a bigot,” “unqualified,” and made a reference to Trump’s infamous stance on the Central Park 5.

One could argue that there’s a discussion to be had about Hill’s comments, one that goes beyond just what was said but also addresses race, politics, and the way Trump has stoked those fires since he announced his candidacy with comments about Mexico sending “rapists” to the U.S.

But this is 2017 so it’s all devolved into a chaotic echo chamber of name-calling and the further dumbing down of discourse. Despite Sanders’ reaction, Hill’s comments were hardly the most “outrageous” things one could say (especially as long as Ted Nugent is alive). 

After all, Sanders works for a man who is known for pushing a racist conspiracy theory that Barack Obama wasn’t born in the U.S., bragging about sexual assault, and having lots of trouble denouncing white supremacists and David Duke before that.

But Hill works for ESPN as an on-air host for Sportscenter, and the comments prompted a backlash against Hill from sports talk hot-take chucklehead Clay Travis, among others.

The backlash wore down ESPN — it issued and apology for Hill’s statements as well as admonishing her for them. 

Meanwhile, reaction to the White House calling on a media behemoth to fire a reporter for saying something the administration didn’t like sent shivers down the spines of observers.

Further making a mess of things is ESPN’s seemingly random approach to political controversies and employee suspensions. As Deadspin points out, country singer Hank Williams, Jr. returned to the opening credits of ESPN’s Monday Night Football just a few years after the network cut him loose for comparing Obama to Hitler

Bill Simmons was (in)famously suspended by ESPN after a 2014 podcast in which he said NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was lying over what the NFL knew about the horrific tape showing NFL player Ray Rice punching his then-fiancee.

And former ESPN reporter Britt McHenry, who was critical of Hill’s comments, was suspended in 2015 for comments made to a tow company employee that were caught on tape. 

As of late Wednesday afternoon, ESPN had yet to announce any disciplinary action against Hill, who has spoken in the past about the harassment she’s subjected to online.

With the White House now stepping into the fracas, the frenzy surrounding Hill and her comments have reached a fever pitch. So much for an honest conversation about race and politics — and all the better for the Trump administration as it distracts us all with more bread and circuses.

Read more: http://mashable.com/

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