Jemele Hill and Cari Champion are facing a backlash on social media after asking YouTube star Jake Paul if it was racist of him to knock out former NBA star Nate Robinson during their recent boxing match.
Hill asked the controversial question during a recent interview session with Jake Paul on Vice’s Cari & Jemele (Won’t) Stick to Sports.
“Jake… Uhm… considering where we are right now in our racial conversation in America… was what you did to Nate Robinson racist?” Hill asked laughing.
At first, Jake Paul didn’t take the question seriously
“Nah, stop playing with me, c’mon,” the YouTube star answered jokingly amid laughter from the women.
“We just witnessed a white man knock a black man smooth out in front of all America, so that’s why I asked,” Hill continued while still laughing.
She then asked Paul to tell viewers about what happened that night “because it looked like Nate was asleep before he even hit the canvas.”
Question of the week: was @jakepaul KO to Nate Robinson racist? ? pic.twitter.com/ogSqHj764s
— VICE TV (@VICETV) December 4, 2020
Paul explained that winning the fight was what he’d trained for. He said that boxing is a sport and that participants train to win. He added that winning was what he entered the ring to do and that he worked hard for it.
Champion then repeated the question once again. She asked whether it was racist of Jake Paul to knock a black man out.
Paul appeared irritated this time and he made an effort to shoot down the suggestion that knocking out his opponent had anything to do with race.
“Stop asking me that,” Paul said, “I said no. That’s a sh**ty question. It’s a sport.”
Social media users reacted angrily
Jemele Hill and Cari Champion received an immediate backlash after the video surfaced on social media.
Some Twitter users thought that the question was inappropriate. They also praised Paul for what they considered to be his mature handling of the situation.
“Look, I don’t like Jake Paul in the slightest, but this is an absolute garbage question. Like I honestly don’t know why/how Cari Champion thought this was an intelligent thing to ask,” an upset fan tweeted.
Look, I don’t like Jake Paul in the slightest, but this is an absolute garbage question. Like I honestly don’t know why/how Cari Champion thought this was an intelligent thing to ask. pic.twitter.com/YcJtSJ0JFO
— Hunter Seidler (@BigHseidler) December 8, 2020
“Never been a Jake Paul fan, don’t follow youtubers, but this is ridiculous @jemelehill @CariChampion,” another Twitter user commented. “Props to Jake for handling it as one should. #cancelthiss**tshow.”
Never been a Jake Paul fan, don’t follow youtubers, but this is ridiculous @jemelehill @CariChampion Props to Jake for handling it as one should. #cancelthisshitshow
— Greg Horinek (@greghorinek) December 8, 2020
Some viewers thought Hill and Champion were joking
Based on the fact that the show, Cari & Jemele (Won’t) Stick To Sports, is billed as a comedy show and that the ladies were giggling while asking the question, some viewers argued they were only joking and did not expect to be taken seriously.
But some pushed back at the suggestion that it was a joke, saying that although Hill was laughing when she first asked the question, Champion looked serious when she asked the question a second time.
It was when Champion asked the question again that Paul seriously pushed back.
“I believe Jemele was possibly joking especially when she went on to say he was asleep before he hit the ground, but Cari asked again and was totally serious. When he said it was a stupid question she was upset,” a viewer tweeted.
Cari Champion responded
Cari Champion later took to Twitter to explain that the question was meant as a joke.
“Y’all, @jemelehill and I were trolling a troll with permission,” Champion tweeted. “This wasn’t an interview with weight. It was sarcastic- y’all need context?”
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
Champion’s explanation did not go down well with many
Champion’s explanation did not go down well with many Twitter users who responded, arguing it was a bad joke.
“Too serious a subject to be ‘joking’ about in 2020,” a Twitter used responded. “Shows a lack of responsibility. His answer was more mature than the question.”
But some fans defend Champion, saying that the show is known to be a comedy and that people should not have taken Hill and Champion seriously.