Jemele Hill is denying claims that ESPN legend Chris Berman left her a “threatening and racially disparaging voicemail.”
The popular sports journalist disputes claims from a former employee who dropped names and some tea in her lawsuit against the venerable sports network, according to USA Today.
On Monday TMZ reported that ESPN legend Chris Berman allegedly left a “threatening and racially disparaging voicemail” to his colleague, Hill.
The claims were made in a lawsuit not brought by Jemele Hill herself but instead by Adrienne Lawrence, a former ESPN legal analyst who’s suing the network for sexual discrimination, and creating a hostile work environment.
“ESPN is, and always has been, a company rife with misogyny,” reads the opening line of a complaint filed Sunday in Connecticut district court against the sports network.
Lawrence claims she rejected the “unwelcome advances” of ESPN host John Buccigross and claims she wasn’t the only one who got treated unfairly during her two years there.
“In early 2016, ESPN’s ‘The Undefeated’ personality Jemele Hill received a threatening and racially disparaging voicemail from Berman on her ESPN phone line,” the suit claims. Also pointing out that even though Hill notified ESPN executive Marcia Keegan – who oversaw Hill’s show “His & Hers,” ultimately nothing was done to address the misconduct.
Lawrence asserts that Berman “remains a celebrated and welcome ESPN employee.” despite being involved in multiple incidents against female staff.
In a statement provided to Deadline, ESPN said:
“We conducted a thorough investigation of the claims Adrienne Lawrence surfaced to ESPN and they are entirely without merit. Ms. Lawrence was hired into a two-year talent development program and was told that her contract would not be renewed at the conclusion of the training program. At that same time, ESPN also told 100 other talent with substantially more experience, that their contracts would not be renewed. The company will vigorously defend its position and we are confident we will prevail in court.”
Jemele’s side of the story
In response to the TMZ report, ESPN also furnished a statement from Jemele Hill:
“A few years ago, I had a personal conflict with Chris Berman,” the statement says, “but the way this conflict has been characterized is dangerously inaccurate. Chris never left any racially disparaging remarks on my voicemail and our conflict was handled swiftly and with the utmost professionalism.
“I felt as if my concerns were taken seriously by ESPN and addressed in a way that made me feel like a valued employee. Frankly, I’m more disappointed that someone I considered to be a friend at one point would misrepresent and relay a private conversation without my knowledge — in which I simply attempted to be a sounding board — for personal gain.”
Jemele Hill also took to Twitter yesterday to make her position on the matter clear when a critic tried to come for her:
Josh Hall wrote:
Chris Berman ALLEGEDLY leaves a racially charged voicemail for Jemele Hill and ALLEGEDLY engaged in sexual harassment. Gonna wait for all the facts to come out of this one, especially considering Jemele is totally the type to play the race and victim card (she’s done it before).
Hill clapped back in response:
“LOL, there is great irony in me sticking up for a white dude and still being flamed for it … as i said, God blesses kids and fools alike.”
Josh Hall retorted:
“You wear black socks around Jemele Hill and she’s like “wut dat supposed to mean – is it cuz I’m black!?” HA so true. If these allegations against Chris Berman were coming from anyone else they might have some credibility but this kook is known for race-baiting. She’s racist!”
But Jemele Hill got the final word:
“I don’t like to engage stupid, but I wasn’t the one who alleged this against Chris Berman. You’re also not funny and proof of what my grandmother once said: Youth is wasted on the young.”