An ESPN host calling President Trump a white supremacist led a group of black conservatives to do something they've never done before: issue a news release about white supremacy.
ESPN found itself in another political controversy this week after SportsCenter host Jemele Hill called Trump a white supremacist in a series of tweets. Hill's comments were a part of a Twitter conversation Monday about an article on musician and potential U.S. Senate candidate Kid Rock's frustration with being labeled a racist, in part because he favors the Confederate flag.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders called Hill's comments “outrageous” and “a fireable offense” on Wednesday.
Project 21, a group of black conservatives sponsored by the 35-year-old National Center for Public Policy Research, a conservative think tank, continued the backlash against Hill in a news release.
Here's a bit of what some of the group's members said.
Political consultant Richard Holt: “Her outbursts seem nothing more than the epitome of the racism she so ardently seeks to call out. … Ms. Hill's comments harm the cases of Americans who have been victims of actual racism and keep us from moving into a post-racial society. Has the fight for civil rights and full emancipation for blacks in America been so successful that we have nothing left to do but malign white conservatives for their political views?”
Move-On-Up.org co-founder Christopher Arps: “It's fortunate for Ms. Hill that she is in a triple-protected group in this country. She is African American, she is female and she is liberal. Anyone else making similar inflammatory comments would have been immediately suspended and — of course — later terminated. … What she did, and the network's failure to adequately address it, further harms a network suffering a loss of viewers like me who are tired of the rampant political bias.”
Community activist Nadra Enzi: “Jemele Hill's dog whistle blew a deafening twitter crescendo that unsurprisingly echoes Hillary Clinton's denunciation of her loss as proof of lurking white nationalism. … It seems to be yet another shot of adrenaline for liberals still catatonic over President Trump's victory.”
Anyone paying attention to the criticism of Trump over Charlottesville and his record on race preceding it knows that Hill is not an outlier. Even some white supremacists think the president shares the values of white supremacists.
And with 64 percent of Americans saying white supremacists pose a threat to the United States, some have questioned whether the president will ever understand the concerns of black Americans like Hill and Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), the black conservative lawmaker who met with the president Wednesday to educate him on the plight of black Americans under his administration.
A spokesman for the National Center for Public Policy Research said that many Project 21 members have commented on white supremacy in the past month, but the group's statement condemning Hill was “the first time we have addressed the issue in a press release format.”
Hill’s tweets weren’t the first time white supremacy has made national news in the past year. Here are some recent events where the group did not issue a news release:
1. The official newspaper of the KKK endorsing Trump during the 2016 election
“While Trump wants to make America great again, we have to ask ourselves, 'What made America great in the first place?' " the article says. “The short answer to that is simple. America was great not because of what our forefathers did — but because of who our forefathers were.
“America was founded as a White Christian Republic. And as a White Christian Republic it became great,” the group added.
2. White supremacist David Duke reminding the president who helped elect him
The former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard tweeted this after the president condemned the violence at the Charlottesville rally.
Duke later praised the president after Trump made a follow-up statement in which he said there was blame on both sides.
3. The Senate's resolution condemning white supremacists
The Senate by unanimous consent passed a resolution calling on the Trump administration to “use all available resources to improve data collection on hate crimes and to work in a coordinated way to address the growing prevalence of hate groups.”
When asked why the center did not issue a news release on any issue related to white supremacy before the Hill incident, a spokesman said:
“We are a nonprofit, and we do not make statements during campaigns that might prejudice someone to vote for or against a candidate. In the aftermath of Charlottesville, we were already fielding interviews and thus didn’t put out a release.”
Most people — including some Project 21 members — believe Hill is entitled to her opinion. But some might find it surprising — and even unhelpful — that the first time a group of black conservatives interested in public policy decided to issue a news release about white supremacy, they focused on a sports anchor.
When asked why the organization had not sent a news release on white supremacy before the Hill incident, a spokesman responded:
“When has white supremacy been a front-page topic in the past 20 years?”
I think most Americans could give a few examples.
After all, nearly 6 in 10 voters believe that the person that has encouraged white supremacists is Trump.