ESPN public editor backtracks after blaming Trump’s ‘white supremacist’ image on the media

"The reason so many think Trump is a white supremacist is because of many things that have been reported by the media," Brady wrote.

CREDIT: AP Photo/Evan Vucci
CREDIT: AP Photo/Evan Vucci

On Friday night, ESPN public editor Jim Brady deleted a tweet suggesting the media is responsible for creating the perception that President Donald Trump is a white supremacist.

“The reason so many think Trump is a white supremacist is because of many things that have been reported by the media,” Brady wrote. “Let the facts speak.”

After the comment sparked backlash, Brady backtracked. Announcing that he was deleting the tweet, Brady said it was written “really poorly and quickly” and that people had “misunderstood” his comment:

Though Brady later argued he “[w]as actually complimenting the press,” in other tweets he made clear that he does in fact view the issue of Trump’s debated racism a matter of “labeling” rather than facts.

Brady’s tweets came while he was defending himself from another controversy — his column about the Jemele Hill controversy. Brady criticized Hill — a black ESPN anchor — for tweets she published earlier in the week describing President Trump as “a white supremacist who has largely surrounded himself [with] other white supremacists.”


“Let’s dispense with the suspense: I think Hill made an error in judgment in those tweets,” Brady wrote, before going on to characterize Hill’s perspective on Trump as her “opinion.”

“But even though Hill has a right to her opinion, and even though, as a commentator, she’s allowed to express opinions as part of her job, I still believe she erred by ignoring company guidelines and, as a result, put her employer in a difficult position,” he wrote.

Brady’s opinion stands in stark contrast to other commentators, many of whom have expressed support for views like Hill’s. During an MSNBC interview on Friday night, writer Ta-Nehisi Coates argued there is plenty of evidence indicating Trump is in fact a white supremacist.

Alluding to Trump’s actions over the years, Coates said, “If you own a business that attempts to keep black people from renting from you, if you are reported to say that you don’t want black people counting your money, if you say — and not even reported, just come out and say — that someone can’t judge your case because they are Mexican, if your response to the first black president is that they weren’t born in this country despite all proof, if you say they weren’t smart enough to go to Harvard Law School and demand to see their grades, if that’s the essence of your entire political identity, you might be a white supremacist.”

Brady’s column was published the day after Trump publicly defended white supremacists for the third time in a month. On Thursday, Trump reiterated to reporters that he views the white nationalists and neo-Nazis who gathered in Charlottesville, Virginia as morally equivalent to counter-protesters.


“When you look at really what’s happened since Charlottesville, a lot of people are saying, and people have actually written, ‘Gee, Trump may have a point,’” Trump said. “I said there’s some very bad people on the other side also.”

The morning after making those comments, Trump demanded an apology from Hill and characterized her description of him as an “untruth.” But Trump himself has yet to apologize for repeatedly defending white supremacists, nor has he ever apologized for his leading role in pushing a racist conspiracy about former President Barack Obama’s birth certificate — a stunt that brought him to national political prominence years ahead of his presidential run.

Twitter users responded angrily to Brady’s comments, calling out the editor for his failure to address the real meaning of Hill’s words, as well as his decision to overlook Trump’s actions:

Brady’s column criticizing Hill didn’t mention ThinkProgress’ reporting about how ESPN made an unsuccessful attempt to kick Hill off the air and replace her with another black anchor on Wednesday — the same day that Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders endorsed Hill’s firing from the White House podium.