Michael Smith is the current host of ESPN’s SC6, though, after the way he just blasted his own network, he too might find himself relegated to writing for the Undefeated.
Up until recently Smith co-hosted SC6 with Jemele Hill. However, after Jemele Hill left the program, leaving a trail of highly-politicized tweets and controversy in her wake, Smith is now opening up about how the network handled the show behind the scenes.
In an interview on James Andrew Miller’s podcast, Smith vented his frustrations:
‘There was a time we weren’t even talking to each other [on air] anymore,’ Smith said. ‘Like no more Michael and Jemele, not less, not here and there. No more Michael and Jemele talking. No more of their commentary. It’s just strictly live shots and analysts. That’s what pissed me off so much.
‘I’m like, so wait a second, you all acknowledge that one of the strengths that we have going for us as a show is Michael and Jemele’s chemistry, but Michael and Jemele don’t [expletive] talk to each other? How does that make sense?’
According to the Turnstile, Smith went on to say, “that he and Hill knew there would be pushback to the way they wanted to do things, but said the two did not fight. They backed down, and ESPN “got what they wanted,” according to Smith, “Which was Michael and Jemele being muted.” He added that it “frustrated the [expletive] out of us.”
Frustrations aside, the fact is that SC6 was never the ratings success former ESPN President John Skipper envisioned, even before Hill began calling the president a “white supremacist” on Twitter. In fact, few outside of the sports world even knew who Jemele Hill was, prior to her unhinged tweets about the president.
Which supports FS1 host Jason Whitlock’s contention that Hill’s tweeting matched-up perfectly with ESPN’s maniacal obsession with getting retweets and followers on social media:
“I think that ESPN has chosen a lane politically…[ESPN President] John Skipper has certainly made diversity in his view a business innovation for ESPN and has moved the company to the left,” Whitlock told Fox & Friends. So I think no action here against Jemele Hill is a clear sign that they’re in agreement… Attacking the president is a way to get retweeted and liked and to build your following over Twitter…[Hill] just fell into that trap that a lot of us in the media fall into. We’re way too addicted to Twitter, and we’re way too worried about how many people follow us on Twitter and how many people like us.”
Had Jemele Hill’s social media virtue signaling remained on Twitter, and nowhere else, ESPN likely would have let it slide. However, when Sarah Sanders woke Bristol up to the reality of the world outside Twitter by using a White House press conference to call Hill’s tweet a fireable offense, they realized they had created a monster.
Whitlock himself explains how this process went on behind the scenes, after news of Jemele Hill’s departure from SC6 became public knowledge in late January:
It was widely known throughout media industry that after Sept Trump tweets ESPN execs were moving on from The Six around Super Bowl time. Hill was given 6 months to figure out what to do. Why you think SAS took public shots in SN interview? Hill's internal support gone.
— Jason Whitlock (@WhitlockJason) January 27, 2018
Now, would ESPN have stuck with Hill and Smith despite all the political controversy, if the show had been a ratings winner? There’s a strong chance they would have. Stephen A. Smith has made a living out of screaming hysterics into the camera and his access card still functions perfectly. But SC6 was a dud even before the Trump controversy. Which lends serious credence to the idea that Hill’s September tweet calling Trump a racist, was as an attempt at saving her show.
In light of all this one thing remains clear, contrary to Michael Smith’s statement, the show never had chemistry. At least, it never had chemistry to anyone outside the ESPN/media/Twitter groupthink tank. ESPN puts their shows together based on what they, and liberal Twitter, consider to be a good show. In that sense, ESPN is guilty of what so many politicians are guilty of: Not talking to normal Americans.
There’s literally nothing that normal Americans found appealing about watching two extremely angry activists attempt to mix sports in with their politics. Nothing. Had ESPN asked normal Americans what they would think about such a show, they might have saved themselves a lot of trouble.