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ESPN host says network 'muted' them after Jemele Hill controversy: 'Frustrated the s**t out of us

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Former "SC6" co-hosts Jemele Hill and Michael Smith attended the Slam Dunk Contest during the 2017 BET Experience on June 24, 2017, in Los Angeles. Smith said ESPN intentionally “muted” commentary on the show after Hill’s controversial remarks about President Donald Trump and the NFL. (Leon Bennett/Getty Images for BET)

Former "SportsCenter" anchor Jemele Hill's onetime co-host said Wednesday that ESPN intentionally “muted” commentary on the show after Hill’s controversial remarks about President Donald Trump and the NFL.

The co-host, longtime ESPN personality Michael Smith, accused ESPN of “pushing the panic button" after the incidents, steering the show away from free-flowing conversation and toward more segments with analysts.

What did Smith say?

Smith made the comments on an episode of Jim Miller's podcast, "Origins."

There was a time we weren’t even talking to each other [on air] anymore. 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 was like, wait a second, you all acknowledge that one of the strengths we have going for us as a show is Michael and Jemele’s chemistry, but Michael and Jemele don’t f***ing talk to each other? How does that make sense?

They got what they wanted, which was Michael and Jemele being muted. And that frustrated the s**t out of us.

Hill’s departure

Both ESPN and Hill said it was Hill’s decision to leave "SportsCenter" and become a writer for The Undefeated while making cameos on other network shows such as "Around the Horn."

Hill and Smith’s "SC6" version of "SportsCenter" was a risky idea from the start. The 6 p.m. time slot is one of the most notable SportsCenter broadcasts, and some viewers did not appreciate the attempt to reach a younger audience with Smith and Jemele’s more opinionated styles.

“I said to [producer Norby Smith], I know what 'SportsCenter' needs to be, but I know what I need to be too,” Hill said. “And I don’t think those two things are on the same page.”

Smith will continue to host "SportsCenter" and said he will “do the same s**t I’ve been doing for the past 14 years at ESPN.”

(H/T: Awful Announcing)

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