The Atlantic said Monday that it has hired Jemele Hill as a staff writer, a landing spot for the outspoken former ESPN host who departed that network this past summer. In her new role, Hill will cover issues related to sports, race, politics and culture for the magazine and TheAtlantic.com. She will be based in Los Angeles as part of a new bureau and begins next week.
Hill exited ESPN after a 12-year career that included on-air with His and Hers opposite Michael Smith, as a SportsCenter host and a college football sideline reporter after starting her career as a newspaper reporter. Her political tweets got her in hot water with the sports network, however, getting her suspended on two occasions which hastened her departure. In September 2017, Hill became the target of a tweet from President Donald Trump in which he demanded ESPN “apologize for untruth,” after Hill tweeted that Trump is a “white supremacist.”
A few weeks later, she was suspended by ESPN over tweets on Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones anti-kneeling stance on the national anthem protests. “Change happens when advertisers are impacted,” Hill tweeted. “If you feel strongly about JJ’s statement, boycott his advertisers.”
Hill exited her SportsCenter role in January, joining the staff of the network’s vertical The Undefeated as chief correspondent and senior columnist, with a similar remit to what she’ll be writing about at The Atlantic. ESPN bought out her contract in August.
“Jemele is a wonderfully talented journalist who is famous for her acute commentary, fearless writing and encyclopedic knowledge of sports,” said Goldberg. “But what drew us to Jemele in particular is her deep commitment to reporting. There are a million stories to be uncovered at the intersection where sports, race, money and politics meet, and Jemele is the exact right person to do this uncovering, and The Atlantic is the exact right home for this sort of journalism.”
Said Hill: “The Atlantic made perfect sense to me because during this period, it’s critical to be aligned with people who understand this mission: Sports is a great entry point for exploring what’s happening in the wider society. You can’t talk about sports without talking about race, class, gender and politics. I want to explore the complications and discomforts with a publication that has a long history of supporting this kind of work.”