Jemele Hill Says ‘Battling and Hating’ Are Common at ESPN

Jemele Hill and Cari Champion on set of Red Table Talk

Former ESPN SportsCenter anchors Jemele Hill and Cari Champion sat down at the red table, for the latest installment of Red Table Talk.

The two sports journalists spoke with hosts Jada Pinkett Smith, Willow Smith and Adrienne Banfield-Norris (Gammy) about mean girls and women supporting other women at work.

“I can count on my hands how many friends I’ve had that have never been jealous of me in any moment or tried to throw me under the bus, and [Jemele] was truly one of them,” Champion said.

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The two were once rivals at ESPN and competed against each other for opportunities at the network, but they now share a close friendship and recently launched their own series on Vice TV called Cari and Jemele: Stick to Sports.

Hill had been at ESPN for six years before Champion was hired, and said she guided her new co-worker on the workplace culture.

“I just had seen too many situations, especially there at ESPN, where people really started battling and hating each other and it turned out it was really over nothing,” Hill said. “As Black women, we can’t afford to do that. As it is, it’s hard enough once we get into that room, once we get to that position, we’re bringing a whole bunch of battles with us, right? So what do I look like with this woman who’s come to ESPN, getting this position, being her enemy?”

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Hill made headlines in 2017, after she posted a series of tweets calling President Donald Trump a “white supremacist” and “ignorant.” Trump demanded an apology and suggested Hill should be fired.

“No one had her back. No one. I can count on my hands how many people had her back within the system,” Champion told Red Table Talk about the reaction at ESPN to Hill’s comments and the fallout that ensued.

Champion continued, “This woman had made this company millions and given them street credibility. They had put her in a position to win and survive and thrive, and one hint of controversy and they took that all away from her. While she left on her own accord, because she couldn’t thrive there for her own mental, you know, sanity—the way that they treated her … I have never seen anything like it in my life.”

Hill said Champion helped her weather the storm.

“It was that kind of support, which is why I was able to weather all the things that happened. And that’s when you find who really is down for you,” she said.

Following the discussion of working for ESPN, Hill and Champion continued to discuss the need for Black sisterhood and women supporting women.

Watch the full episode of Facebook Watch series Red Table Talk below.