White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Friday was grilled by reporters for suggesting that ESPN’s Jemele Hill should lose her job for criticizing Donald Trump.
Sanders said Thursday that calling the president a white supremacist should be a “fireable offense.” At Friday’s White House briefing, Sanders said it wasn’t her place to tell a private company like ESPN what to do — but she doubled-down on her attack against Hill.
A reporter noted that Trump had demanded ESPN apologize for “untruths.” She asked if Trump would apologize for spreading “untruths” like the birther conspiracy.
“I think the point is that ESPN has been hypocritical,” Sanders responded. “They should hold anchors to a fair and consistent standard. ESPN suspended a longtime anchor Linda Cohn not too long ago for expressing a political viewpoint. The network’s public editor has said that there is a perception that ESPN has become political and that has harmed the network.”
The reporter tried to ask a follow-up question about Hill, but Sanders talked over her. “I’m going to try to keep moving,” Sanders said.
But the next reporter also asked about Hill. “Do you still stand by your statement?” he asked Sanders.
“I do,” Sanders replied. “I think they laid that out themselves by suspending one of their own anchors for political comments.”
A few minutes later, Sanders was asked about Hill again.
“You said it was a fireable offense,” another reporter asked. “Are you or the president saying that she should be fired?
Sanders said the decision to fire Hill was not hers to make, but reiterated that she thinks it is a “fireable offense.”
Sanders was asked about Hill yet again, but she told the reporter she needed to be “respectful to her colleagues.” Another reporter shouted, “You haven’t answered it! Could you?”
“Go ahead,” Sanders said, agreeing to let the reporter ask her question.
“I want to call on a clarification because you said you don’t have advice for a ‘private company’ yet you are giving advice to ESPN,” the reporter pointed out.
“It is not my decision to make for a private company,” Sanders replied. “I was asked specific about that individual. I made a comment. I stand by it. I think ESPN needs to stand by the standard that they have set in their own actions that they have taken about previous employees.”
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