Former ESPN anchors Cari Champion and Jemele Hill clapped back at accusations of race-baiting after Youtube sensation Jake Paul recently appeared on their hit show Cari & Jemele Won’t Stick To Sports.
— VICE TV (@VICETV) December 4, 2020
The show aired on Dec. 3 after Paul and former NBA player Nate Robinson’s boxing match that resulted in a knockout of the basketball star within two minutes of the second round commencing.
During Paul's appearance on the program, Hill jokingly referenced Robinson’s pummeling as racist when she asked Paul about the boxing match.
“Jake, considering where we are right now in our racial conversation in America, was what you did to Nate Robinson racist,” Hill asked as she giggled.
Initially, it appeared that Paul took the tongue-in-cheek question in stride as he answered it.
“Nah, stop playing with me. Come on. This is what we train for, at the end of the day, boxing’s a sport, and you train to win,” he explained. “Nate is the one who called me out originally.”
Champion didn’t let the response go. Instead, she reiterated Hill’s question adding that it was the question of the week.
“Was it racist to knock a Black man out? That is the question of the week,” she repeated to Paul.
"Stop asking me that," he replied. "I said, 'no.' That's a s****y question. It's a sport. How does this have anything to do with race?"
However, Champion continued to question him.
“Why is it a s****y question?” she replied.
“Because how does this have anything do with race? It doesn’t,” he said.
The two women continued to chuckle throughout the segment.
A backlash swiftly followed the show. Twitter users were appalled by the question.
That was really bad! I think its just a lack of education with both those presenters. It was a boxing match and someone lost, its a sport. Just because Nate is black does not mean he cant box a white man. Ridiculous questions! Being black is not a disability!
— sterling junior (@sterlihalla) December 11, 2020
One person called the moment, "cringeworthy," on Twitter.
I dunno ..this had a diamond and silk vibe to it…it was kinda cringeworthy … I know the question was supposed to be playful…but it didn't go as planned…smh pic.twitter.com/8OMqTlUFXx
— Big C (@TeamBigC) December 4, 2020
While another person expressed in a tweet that the joke was just bad.
This was bad. If it was funny it’d be good but it’s neither
— Emperor Grunfeld (@harDCor_barra) December 9, 2020
Another person wrote on Twitter that VICE TV should cancel the show.
@VICETV should cancel this show. This was soooooooooo cringe. How you gonna make Jake Paul look like the normal one?? Wow
— Jonathan Jones (@FADEDJAYZ) December 11, 2020
After the backlash from the show’s airing, the two hosts addressed naysayers on their social media platforms who felt the question they posed to Paul was inappropriate.
Hill posted the segment in its entirety on her Instagram account, adding that she didn't feel it was that serious.
“Jake Paul controversy is much ado about nothing. Judge for yourselves. All good if you don’t think it’s funny or if you think the joke fell flat, but we were clearly kidding around with Jake Paul — which he knew. Here’s the FULL interaction,” Hill wrote.
Champion addressed the backlash more directly from her Twitter account.
“Y’all, @jemelehill and I were trolling a troll with permission. This wasn’t an interview with weight. It was sarcastic — y’all need context? Bc if y’all can’t hear the laughing, the bad WiFi connection — smh. So for the outraged! For more context Thursday at 11:30 p.m. on @VICETV,” she wrote.
Y’all, @jemelehill and I were trolling a troll with permission. This wasn’t an interview with weight. It was sarcastic- y’all need context? Bc if y’all can’t hear the laughing, the bad WiFi connection- smh. So for the outraged! For more context Thurs. at 1130pm on @VICETV ????. pic.twitter.com/qwIAk2nuUT
— Cari Champion (@CariChampion) December 9, 2020
Since the fight, Robinson has reassured fans after the knockout. He posted a video to his Instagram account, thanking everyone for their concern.
“Thank you, everyone, for all of the well wishes. I’m OK. I appreciate @triller for the opportunity as well as everyone that has backed me during the fight,” Robinson wrote. “To my coaches, trainers, fans, and teammates, I appreciate all of the time and support you guys put in with me. It wasn’t the outcome that we wanted, but I’m thankful for the opportunity to fight on the biggest stage that there has been.”