President Trump lashed out at ESPN on Friday, saying the sports network had “bad programming” and was losing viewers following an anchor’s denunciations of him earlier this week. The president also called for an apology.
Trump’s latest barrage against the media, via Twitter, came in the wake of a tweet on Monday by “SportsCenter” host Jemele Hill, in which she labeled Trump a “white supremacist.”
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters Wednesday that Hill’s comments constituted “a fireable offense.”
Hill has expressed regret for painting ESPN in “an unfair light” with her personal comments, but has remained on the air. ESPN denied a report that it considered removing her this week.
“ESPN is paying a really big price for its politics (and bad programming),” Trump said in his Friday morning tweet. “People are dumping it in RECORD numbers. Apologize for untruth!”
At a briefing later Friday, Sanders said she stands by her assessment that a “fireable offense” had occurred and cited another case at ESPN where a different anchor, Linda Cohn, was reportedly suspended for making political comments.
“I think the point is that ESPN has been hypocritical,” Sanders said. “They should hold anchors to a fair and consistent standard. … They should be consistent in whatever guidelines that they have set themselves in that front.”
Sanders later clarified that neither she nor Trump was saying Hill should be fired.
“That's not a decision that I'm going to make,” she said. “That's something for ESPN to decide.”
Trump’s targeting of ESPN on Twitter came amid a busy early morning of tweeting for the president. He also weighed in on the London terrorist attack, called for an expansion of his travel ban targeting six Muslim-majority countries and renewed his call for the Senate to drop its filibuster rule.