Ex-ESPN Broadcaster Jemele Hill Bashes Stephen A. Smith & ESPN for ‘Soft’ Coverage of Dana White Incident

Jemele Hill took issue with how Smith & her former employer did not give White's recent personal incident enough coverage

Jemele Hill, Dana White, Stephen A. Smith, ESPN
Credit: Jemele Hill, UFC, Stephen A. Smith (via Instagram & YouTube)

Ex-ESPN broadcaster Jemele Hill put Stephen A. Smith and her former employer on blast for their lack of coverage of the recent Dana White incident.

UFC president Dana White was at the center of a personal controversy last week. He was on vacation in San Lucas Cabo, Mexico with his family and friends last month. On New Year’s Eve, White and crew made their way to a popular local nightclub to bring in the New Year when trouble found him. Just moments after midnight, White got into a heated argument with his wife, Anne.

TMZ Sports shared a clip in which White leaned over and told Anne something, after which she slapped him. White responded by slapping her back with multiple strikes. They were both reported to be heavily intoxicated at the time of the incident.

Jemele Hill bashes ESPN for lack of coverage of the Dana White incident

ESPN partnered with the UFC in 2019, getting television and other digital rights for the ESPN Plus streaming service. The sports channel came under fire for its lack of coverage of White’s incident.

“Since the video’s release, White has not been subject to an avalanche of media coverage or nonstop discussions about whether he should be fired, fined, or otherwise,” wrote Hill in a column for The Atlantic. “His behavior hasn’t been condemned by UFC’s parent company, Endeavor, or UFC’s biggest television partner, ESPN.

“These major stakeholders in the UFC are best positioned to hold White accountable, but they don’t seem particularly motivated to get involved. Endeavor isn’t commenting, and neither is ESPN.”

“The issue isn’t that ESPN has ignored White’s situation entirely. It’s just that the coverage of the incident has overall been pretty soft. 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.”

Hill criticized Stephen A. Smith for the way he handled the news

Stephen A. Smith discussed the incident with Molly Qerim last week on the show First Take. While they appeared to agree White’s actions were wrong, neither of them attempted to provide a thorough analysis.

“To be fair, Smith and Qerim both acknowledged their personal relationship with White, and both agreed that he should be punished. But how could a viewer not wonder whether their conversation about White would have been as nuanced and delicate if it had been about someone they didn’t know? Neither acknowledged that in 2011, White’s own mother accused him of treating women poorly.”

Hollywood Starrs Jamie Foxx and D.L. Hughley voiced their disapproval of how the media covered the incident. As for Dana White, a women’s caucus demanded his departure as the head honcho of the UFC in a public letter addressed to Endeavor, the parent company of the promotion.

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