Opinion: Stop being surprised by Jemele Hill’s silliness

by Peter Heck · Jun 27th, 2020 3:24 pm
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Last Updated Jun 28th, 2020 at 3:15 pm

I'm sure I'm not the first to notice this, but I don't know that there has been a more mis-titled podcast in existence than the one hosted by former ESPN host, Obama crony, and race-agitator Jemele Hill. The name of her podcast? "Jemele Hill is Unbothered."

Sorry, but that's like naming a podcast, "Donald Trump is a Peacemaker," or "Taylor Swift is a Deep Thinker." A simple survey of her article archive, or simply perusing her Twitter feed on a given day reveals that Hill lives in a state of perpetual bothered-ness. She isn't satisfied if she isn't upset about something and doing her best to make everyone else upset about it too.

I understand that part of that is financially strategic. There's money to be made as a provocateur. Politicians aren't the only ones who benefit handsomely off pitting us all against one another. And that's Hill's shtick – grievance-mongering for attention and profit, no matter the social costs to others who lack the privileged insulation her wealth provides her.

The recent episode regarding NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace is a perfect example. Though there have been a significant number of high-profile, alleged hate crimes or intimidation incidents that have turned out to be hoaxes, I don't think anyone should fault Hill or others for reporting the concerning account of a noose being discovered in Wallace's assigned garage.

Particularly amid all the racial tension being experienced in the country right now, coupled with the recent decision by NASCAR to ban the Confederate flag from its events, such an occurrence would definitely rise to the level of newsworthy.

But as per her usual, Jemele Hill did far more than report the incident. Without facts, testimony, or evidence, she rendered a conclusion that – shocking to no one – affirmed all of her prejudices and biases against white southerners that enjoy stock car racing. Given a platform by Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC, Hill offered her definitively narrow-minded verdict:

"This reminder is [a] very stunning, shocking, appalling, disgusting reminder of who, again, this sport is for. I'm very curious to see how NASCAR handles this, because based [on] everything I've read … this had to be an inside job, because this garage was only open to essential personnel. So, somebody associated with NASCAR likely may have been the culprit."

This wasn't responsible. It wasn't level-headed. It wasn't peace-seeking.

It was inflammatory speculation used as impetus to impugn the character of an entire group of people. And, in a predictable turn-of-events that would leave anyone capable of shame feeling humiliated, it all ended up being wrong.

There was no noose discovered in Bubba Wallace's garage. It was a garage door pull rope whose end was "fashioned like a noose" according to the FBI.

Now, first things first: this should be regarded as great news for everyone, by everyone. Those pretending that the initial concern was overwrought or overblown are ignoring the tense circumstances we find ourselves in these days. There's no question in my mind that the pull rope could have legitimately appeared to someone as a noose when they first opened the door to the empty garage and saw it hanging there – particularly given the current unrest.

The fact that someone was sensitive enough to initially report it, the fact that NASCAR responded swiftly to investigate, the fact that the other (white) drivers and crew pushed Bubba's car to the front for pre-race ceremonies at Talladega amid the investigation, and the fact that it all turned out to be a misunderstanding? That's the best news imaginable for our country.

Yet notice that instead of celebrating it, Jemele Hill has chosen to double down on her now indefensible initial accusations.

You could make the argument this is pride forbidding her to acknowledge an emotional reaction that lacked appropriate humility and restraint. But I don't think a fair understanding of Jemele Hill's history allows you to draw such a conclusion.

Trained to inflame, she makes her money as someone perpetually bothered. Apologizing, tempering, softening, soothing, mollifying, or relaxing tensions may be morally honorable, but it doesn't garner headlines.

Jemele has made a career of pursuing the latter, and as much as she should be, she's totally unbothered by it.

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