Jemele Hill Slams Ex-Colleague Stephen A. Smith & ESPN For ‘Going Easy’ On Dana White After UFC President Was Filmed Slapping His Wife

Jemele Hill, Stephen A Smith, Dana White

Jemele Hill Slams Ex-Colleague Stephen A. Smith & ESPN For ‘Going Easy’ On Dana White After UFC President Was Filmed Slapping His Wife

Jemele Hill is disappointed in Stephen A. Smith’s take on Dana White’s domestic violence incident.

According to reports, former ESPN anchor Jemele Hill criticized her ex-colleague Stephen A. Smith and her old bosses for “going easy” on UFC president Dana White. As previously reported, last week video footage surfaced online of the businessman slapping his wife during an argument at a nightclub in Mexico.

Jemele Hill, who left the Disney-owned sports network in 2018, wrote that ESPN’s financial partnerships with the UFC have discouraged the network from covering Dana White’s incident as aggressively as they do other scandals. Noting that ESPN and UFC signed a $1.5 billion television contract to premiere its fights, Hill, a staff writer for The Atlantic, wrote:

“Coverage of the incident [which] has overall been pretty soft.” 

In 2019 ESPN (aka the “Worldwide Leader in Sports”) and the UFC signed another deal to make the network its exclusive pay-per-view provider. Hill continued with her thoughts on the matter and said:

“Having worked at ESPN for 12 years, I know intimately the difference between cursory coverage and a nonstop national conversation fueled by the massive sports-media machine.”

According to Hill, ESPN writer/editor Jeff Wagenheim “essentially confirmed” her “observation that the network is intentionally going easy on White.” On Thursday (Jan. 5) Jeff Wagenheim took to Twitter and announced:

“We’ve been told to not write anything incendiary on social media about the Dana White situation, and I understand why and have abided by that. I just ask y’all to understand that some of us at ESPN do not have as soft a take as this on domestic violence.” 

Wagenheim clarified:

“There was no edict from ESPN bosses regarding the White situation, but in general we are strongly discouraged from incendiary posts on social media, and with a business partner things are sensitive. My bad on the wording. (The thought that follows still stands.)”

Hill also blasted her old co-workers Stephen A. Smith and Molly Qerim, who currently co-anchor ESPN’s debate show “First Take” together. According to the famed journalist, Smith and Qerim “were especially gracious to White, whom they both admitted they are friendly with.”

She added that Smith and Qerim would have called Dana out more for his actions and would not have been as “nuanced and delicate” if he had been someone they “didn’t know.”

Molly Qerim

During their broadcast on Jan. 4, a few days after the slapping incident occurred, Smith reportedly said:

“I just wish the best for him and his family.” 

Smith continued:

“He knows how wrong he was to do this. He knows that we’re on this. He knew ahead of time, because I reached out to him to let him know I would be talking about this this morning.”

Smith added: 

“He knows that he crossed a line that he has never crossed before and that he swears he will never cross again. And he is incredibly ashamed of himself. That’s just where we are right now.”

Do you agree with Jemele Hill? Tell us in the comments below.

Authored by: Tsai-Ann Hill