So Hill’s anti-Trump and pro-kneeler tweets highlighted her aggressively lefty position at a time when ESPN is hemorrhaging viewers in general and losing them even faster from the right. And for a company that’s scared about its future, a company that feels vulnerable, suspending her was a way of saying that there are limits on what progressives can say at ESPN, too. When you host a TV show, unless you’re a huge star, then you are, in a sense, renting space from the bosses. You get as much latitude as they allow. If they tell you that you can’t say something, then you have to respect that or hang up your mic. You serve at their pleasure.
But Hill seems to recognize that this is a unique political moment and that black people are under threat from both the police and Trump, which means that if you have a platform being silent would be both immoral and dangerous. ESPN gave Hill a platform and helped her become a national star. But if she can’t speak her mind at this political moment then that platform may not be for her. There was a time when Hill needed ESPN a lot more than they needed her but that power dynamic has changed. She’s a telegenic star who’s widely known. Her suspension has made her more beloved by her fans. If the network is too scared to let Jemele be Jemele, then maybe she should take her mic elsewhere.