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President Trump Slams ESPN, Demands Network “Apologize for Untruth” (Tweets)
President Trump escalated his war of words with ESPN on Friday morning.
Earlier this week, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders took ESPN’s Jemele Hill to task for saying her boss is a white supremacist.
“That’s one of the more outrageous comments that anyone could make and certainly something that I think is a fireable offense by ESPN,” Sanders told the White House press gallery.
On Friday, in a tweet published at 7:20 a.m. ET, the President himself took another swipe at ESPN, saying the network is “paying a really big price” for its politics and demanding it “apologize for untruth.”
ESPN is paying a really big price for its politics (and bad programming). People are dumping it in RECORD numbers. Apologize for untruth!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 15, 2017
Of course, there are a few problems with this tweet. For starters, Jemele Hill did not call Trump a white supremacist on the air. She did it on Twitter. And while ESPN certainly has a right to censure Hill for the things she says on Twitter, the network is not technically responsible for any supposed “untruths” she might say.
Another problem is Trump’s obvious double standard. If he was not fired by NBC for calling President Obama a racist in 2012, why should Hill be fired for calling him a racist in 2017?
Obama’s ’07 speech which @DailyCaller just released not only shows that Obama is a racist but also how the press always covers for him.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 3, 2012
Finally, and this is almost beside the point, Trump’s claim that ESPN is losing subscribers because of its politics is factually incorrect. The network did go from 100 million subscribers in 2011 to 87 million more recently, which led to a huge purge of on- and off-air talent last spring. However, this isn’t about politics. It’s about millennials cutting cords.
As the folks at For the Win astutely pointed out, a survey conducted in May revealed that 64% of viewers approve of the way ESPN mixes sports and politics. Another 8% think they don’t cover politics enough, while 10% has no opinion. Thus, a full 82% of viewers don’t have a problem with ESPN’s politics.
As for viewers who think ESPN is biased, 30% of them think the network espouses a conservative viewpoint.
So no, ESPN is not hemorrhaging viewers because of its politics.