ESPN host and part-time social activist, Jemele Hill, was suspended by the sports news network Monday for talking reckless about Jerry Jones and the Dallas Cowboys. Jerry Jones warned he would suspend any of his players who kneeled for the flag. Hill took exception to Jones’ warning, questioning Jones’ ability to take away people’s right to protest or freedom of speech (that was the Shock Exchange’s interpretation). She went so far as to even encourage fans to boycott the Cowboys’ sponsors.
President Trump took to social media to gloat about Jemele’s demise:
With Jemele Hill at the mike, it is no wonder ESPN ratings have "tanked," in fact, tanked so badly it is the talk of the industry!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 10, 2017
Trump went in on ESPN’s ratings, which is true. The network’s ratings are down. That could be due to a multitude of factors. First of all, consumers are cutting the cord. Millennials, in particular, are not subscribing to cable TV as much as their predecessors. The rise of Netflix, Hulu, YouTube and other online offerings mean fewer people are watching cable TV or ESPN. The trend will likely continue, which does not bode well for ESPN.
The network appears to have gone through pains to keep consumers engaged. First Take with popular host Stephen A. Smith, is run twice a day for two hours. I have noticed how Stephen A. has gotten more political as the number of people watching ESPN has fallen. He and his cohorts also seem to spend more time talking about issues not related to sports. The hollering, screaming and bloviating has become nauseating. Stephen A. and his cohorts seem to purposely take polar opposite sides of an issue and scream at each other for two hours. There is no way anyone can get their dander up for two hours every day about every issue – from sports, to politics to whether LeBron should wear a headband during the game. I am a diehard sports fan and I do not even watch ESPN like I used to.
ESPN has engaged in mass layoffs, which has taken the sports world by storm. It’s as if these people have been living in a vacuum. Shock Exchange: How Inner-City From Brooklyn Predicted the Great Recession and the Pain Ahead Told Them the economy was weak. I guess ESPN only recently received the memo. The lay offs reflected the ratings and earnings declines at the network. Hill and her sidekick Michael Smith were spared. They moved their morning show to 6PM and changed the name to The 6; they also changed the format to – you guessed it – one that talks about sports, politics and the issues of the day. The draw is sports, but Smith and Hill have the liberties to go off issue and give their personal opinions on the matters of the day.
I think I watched the first episode which included professor Michael Eric Dyson as a guest. They talked about everything from Trump to Obama. Dyson mentioned all of the buzzwords that generates clickbait – Chris Brown, Rihanna, Kim Kardashian, Kanye, OJ Simpon, et. al. My impression was, “Sports sells itself. If Hill and Smith are doing the most to sell their show then ESPN much hemorrhaging subscribers worst than I thought.
In the past the President has taken exception with comments Hill has made about him, and rightfully so. He is also hip to the problems at ESPN. He took real facts – the hemorrhaging of subscribers and ratings declines – and attributed them to Hill. It’s likely not true, but it was vintage Trump. You come for him and will kick you while you’re down.