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Woke warrior Jemele Hill says the media is ignoring the Dana White scandal because — you guessed it — he’s white.
The UFC President was recently filmed slapping his wife during an argument on New Year’s Eve in Mexico. In a lengthy column for The Atlantic, Hill slams mainstream media (including her former employer, ESPN) for not being outraged enough about the incident.
“In many analogous situations, athletes — especially Black athletes — have not been offered the same grace and support that White is receiving,” she said. “They usually face harsher responses.”
Hill used the example of former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice. Rice never played in the NFL again after TMZ released a video of Rice knocking out his then-fiancée in an elevator. The Rice story dominated the news cycle, and (rightfully so) the ex-Raven faced intense public scrutiny.
Hill cited an Instagram post from actor and comedian D.L. Hughley to back up her racism claims.
“The lack of outrage and the obvious double standard have not gone unnoticed among black entertainers,” she wrote.
Jemele Hill says ESPN is financially tied to Dana White and the UFC
In addition to racism, Hill noted another explanation for the “soft” media coverage of the domestic violence incident — money.
ESPN is UFC’s biggest television partner. In fact, in 2018, the network agreed to a five-year, $1.5 billion broadcast rights deal to air the mixed martial arts events. ESPN is also the sport’s exclusive pay-per-view provider.
“These major stakeholders in the UFC are best positioned to hold White accountable,” Hill said. “But they don’t seem particularly motivated to get involved.”
She specifically attacked ESPN host Stephen A. Smith, who admitted that he warned his friend Dana White before discussing the wife slap on “First Take.”
“I just wish the best for him and his family,” Smith said. “He knows that he crossed a line that he has never crossed before and that he swears he will never cross again. And he is incredibly ashamed of himself.”
Hill says employees are discouraged from compromising the network’s business relationships. A tweet from ESPN writer and editor Jeff Wagenheim appears to support Hill’s claim.
Wagenheim later clarified, saying that employees were not specifically directed on the White situation but that “we are generally discouraged from incendiary posts on social media.”
Jemele Hill calls Dana White a hypocrite
To Hill’s credit (and we don’t say that often), she has a point here.
The UFC President has always taken a strong public stance about violence against women.
“There’s one thing that you never bounce back from and that’s putting your hands on a woman,” White said in 2014 regarding the Ray Rice incident. “Been that way in the UFC since we started here. You don’t bounce back from putting your hands on a woman.”
The UFC also signed former NFL player Greg Hardy in 2018, despite Hardy’s multiple domestic violence charges.
“White’s stance on domestic violence clearly comes with some wiggle room,” Hill said.
Some Details She Missed:
Jemele Hill makes some good arguments in the column, but she’s failing to mention a couple important details:
First, the video of White slapping his wife surfaced on Jan 2. — shortly before Bills safety Damar Hamlin suffered a cardiac arrest on the field during Monday Night Football. Every media outlet in the country became laser focused on Hamlin’s injury and subsequent recovery for an entire week. The timing of the incident partly explains why the White story didn’t dominate the news cycle.
Still, plenty of outlets covered it, and most didn’t go easy on him. Just here at OutKick, we highlighted former boxer Oscar De La Hoya and MMA fighter Dustin Poirier, who both condemned the UFC President.
Second, in the case of Ray Rice, Greg Hardy, Trevor Bauer and other athletes accused of domestic violence, media coverage often centers on their respective team or league’s handling of the event. Subsequent weeks of media coverage usually focus on the punishment sent down. In the case of Dana White, who holds the boss accountable?
Endeavor, the parent company that holds majority stake of UFC, is the only entity that can fire, suspend or punish White. And there’s been plenty of pressure on them to do so.
While being outraged about a lack of outrage is pretty on-brand for Jemele Hill, she’s losing the plot on this one. Anti-domestic violence is a stance we can all agree on.
So put the pressure on Dana White. Put the pressure on Endeavor. And put the pressure on ESPN. But one time — just one time, Jemele — let’s leave skin color out it.