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Marc Lamont Hill, a prominent academic and commentator, doesn’t think CNN was justified in firing him on Nov. 29, after he was accused of giving an anti-Semitic speech at the United Nations one day earlier.
“Marc Lamont Hill is no longer under contract with CNN,” a network spokesperson said of Hill, who had spent about four years commenting on CNN after earlier stops on Fox News and HuffPost.
Hill, during an appearance on a podcast last week hosted by former MSNBC host Toure, said the firing was “hasty” and based on a “reactionary assessment” of what he said.
“My frustration isn’t that they held me accountable for what I said at the U.N.,” Hill said. “It’s that the particular things that I said at the U.N., I don’t think, weren’t particularly troublesome. … As you said, there was nothing inflammatory about it. There was certainly nothing anti-Semitic about it.”
Hill also took issue with media coverage of his termination, arguing that his transgression was mischaracterized: “They weren’t ‘anti-Israel’ comments. They were comments that were critical of Israel.”
But, he told Toure he’s doing fine after the firing. “I am OK, profoundly OK,” he said. “I’m actually feeling good. I’m feeling energized these days.”
Temple University, which employs Hill as a professor of media studies, released a statement this week largely defending him: “We recognize that professor Hill’s comments are his own, that his speech as a private individual is entitled to the same constitutional protection of any other citizen, and that he has through subsequent statements expressly rejected anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic violence.”
Hill said he was fired for comments made on his “day off,” though he said he understands that commentators can be held accountable for comments made externally.
“There [are] no days off in this business, no matter where you’re operating from, in a 24-hour news cycle, in a social media cycle, in an iPhone cycle,” he said. “You have to be aware of who you are at all times and what you’re saying at all times. So I don’t have an issue with being held accountable for what I say when I’m not on air. What I have an issue with, what I disagree with, is the assessment itself. I think there was a reactionary assessment.”
When CNN called Hill to discuss the situation, he thought the network would ask him to make a statement or clarify his remarks before realizing he had no recourse. “I’m a professional,” he said. “I said, ‘I disagree strongly with your opinion, with this take, but I hear you.’ And that’s all you can do. … No one calls you to fire you and can be talked out of it. … I think it was a hasty decision. I disagree with the decision. And I think history will vindicate the claims that I made.”
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