White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders Wednesday described ESPN host Jemele Hill’s comments about President Donald Trump as a "fireable offense."
Hill tweeted Tuesday that Trump’s actions prove he is a "white supremacist." ESPN issued a statement that same day saying Hill recognizes that the tweets were inappropriate, although she has not deleted them.
At Wednesday’s White House press briefing, Sanders did not state whether Trump knew about the comments, but said that ESPN had justification to fire the SportsCenter anchor.
"I’m not sure if he’s aware, but I think that is one of the more outrageous comments that anyone could make, and certainly something I think is a fireable offense by ESPN," Sanders said.
The reporter who asked Sanders about Hill's tweets followed up by asking about Trump’s reaction to events in Charlottesville, Virginia, which he implied had caused Hill’s comments.
"If the president was so clear, as he said, why do you think influential African American figures are saying things like this?" the reporter asked.
Sanders replied by defending Trump’s relations with other members of the African American community, including Sen. Tim Scott (R., S.C.).
"I’m not going to speak for that individual [Hill], but I know that the president has met, again, with people like Senator Scott who are highly respected leaders in the African American community," Sanders said. "He is committed to working with them to bring the country together. I think that's where we need to be focused, not on outrageous statements like that one."
ESPN has faced some other public relations trouble related to Charlottesville. In August it moved a football announcer off a game in the Virginia town, home of the University of Virginia, because his name was Robert Lee. The name is similar to the Confederate general whose controversial statue is in Charlottesville, but the announcer is an Asian American with no relation to Gen. Robert E. Lee.