Jemele Hill, Trump and Twitter: When Political Opinion In Social Media Can Get You Fired

You’ve probably heard about the recent sh**storm over ESPN host Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) and her tweets — leaving nothing to the imagination about what she thinks of President Trump.

The posts have been taken down – but this article about the Twitter storm in the Boston Globe has screen shots.

While ESPN called her comments *inappropriate* (and says she now realizes that) – I doubt that she regrets speaking her mind.

Jemele Hill on Twitter
ESPN host Jemele Hill has 600k+ followers on Twitter.

And there-in lies the rub.

Unlike Rachel Maddow or Tucker Carlson, no one is expecting to hear Jemele’s views on Trump, tax reform or the war in Afghanistan.

And I’m guessing precisely because she *doesn’t* report on politics, she believed sharing her concerns about the Pres. was fair game and even felt it was her duty to do so.

"political opinion in social media"

Political opinion and media professionals

But Jamele Hill is a media professional. And as such, operates in a tighter box for expressing her own opinion than someone who runs, let’s say, a plumbing company (aka “Joe the Plumber”).

A lot of the blame has been placed on the platform… (“Twitter is the problem”) or the bosses at the networks (“They want their people to be brands and at the same time, not ruffle feathers.”)

Nope.

This is yet another case of *operator error* – which I’ve previously written about here and here.

When is political criticism in social media okay? It depends.

It’s another reminder that *crossing the line* on social media comes with consequences that vary depending on what you do for a living.

If you are a highly compensated face for a zillion-dollar media company, you can bet the suits are going to care about what you say outside the four walls of your home.

Likely her contract allows ESPN to fire her, but Jemele got a warning and will live for another day as a hero to her fans and the poster child of bad Twitter behavior to others.

And guess what … I predict this movie will play out again – only starring another journalist or program host who should know better by now.


Also published on Medium.

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As CEO of KloboMedia and co-founder of TheSocReports, Carol advises many of the most successful social influencers. Reach out to Carol on Twitter: @carolfowler or by email: carol@thesocreports.com.