Jemele Hill's race-baiting forum is open for business once again now that she's joined the staff of The Atlantic magazine. As a writer and podcast hostess, she'll cover "the intersection of sports, race, politics, gender, and culture," says the leftist magazine's editor-in-chief Jeffrey Goldberg in a Twitter announcement Monday. Make that "sports lite."
“Look, she’s a Roman candle, right? She is fearless, energetic,” Goldberg says. “I like having journalists on our staff who make all sorts of useful trouble, and Jemele, I believe, will make all sorts of useful trouble.”
Hill made plenty of trouble for herself previously at ESPN. She recently left there after a 12-year run as a writer, television analyst and short-lived SportsCenter co-host. She acquired much race-baiting baggage along the way, last year calling President Donald Trump and his supporters "white supremacists" in a Tweet (drawing a White House rebuke and demand for her firing.) She and former SC6 co-host Michael Smith often went out-of-bounds politically at a time when new ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro was trying in vain to convince the public that his organization is not political.
USA Today's Tom Schad writes that Hill "has become one of the most well-known figures in sports media in recent years due to her willingness to wade into politics, drawing praise from some and criticism from others — the president of the United States among them.
"In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Hill said she was ready to 'spread my wings in different ways' and that her relationship with ESPN had 'run its course.'" Hill also told The Hollywood Reporter that the claim she's too political is "a dumb narrative." She "always thought that was a very interesting label because frankly, I think that most of the time it was said because we were the two black people."
Hill is also soon to narrate an upcoming documentary by an athlete who's getting more and more political and partisan, Hillary Clinton supporter LeBron James. That documentary is titled Shut Up and Dribble — drawing its title from Fox News' Laura Ingraham telling the star to do exactly that after he profaned the president.
After Hill departed from SC6 last winter, she moved over to the ESPN blog The Undefeated, where her post archives offer a pretty good idea of what we can expect from her at The Atlantic.
When the NFL, in May, announced a no-anthem-protest rule, Hill wrote: "The NFL not only doesn’t care that its league is starting to have an old-man-yelling-at-clouds kind of feel, but it also doesn’t seem to care that it is alienating many of its black and brown fans."
After Trump invited Colin Kaepernick to attend a race summit at the White House, Hill complained it rang hollow: "My concern is that this summit is just a front to exploit the players and artists for their popularity. They’ll become a talking point or a campaign strategy, used as evidence that some of the intolerance we’ve witnessed from this administration isn’t so bad."
Hill on the president's administration: "I also can’t pretend as if the tone and behavior of this presidential administration is normal. And I certainly can’t pretend that racism and white supremacy aren’t real and that marginalized people don’t feel threatened and vulnerable, myself included, on a daily basis.
"Also, let me be clear about something else: My criticisms of the president were never about politics. In my eyes, they were about right and wrong. I love this country. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t want it to be better."
Hill should feel right at home among ideological comrades at The Atlantic. She calls it a "wider playground that I can dabble in, and places where the discomfort is okay." James Andrew Miller, writing for The Hollywood Reporter, calls it her brave new world and a "jemelian dream."