Jemele Hill Denies Chris Berman Sent Her 'Racially Disparaging' Voicemail

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMarch 5, 2018

LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 12:  Sportscaster Chris Berman speaks onstage at The 2017 ESPYS at Microsoft Theater on July 12, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

ESPN broadcaster Chris Berman is alleged to have left colleague Jemele Hill a "threatening and racially disparaging voicemail," TMZ Sports reported Monday. 

The allegation was included in a lawsuit filed by Adrienne Lawrence, a former legal analyst at ESPN. Hill, however, released a statement about the report on Twitter

A few years ago, I had a personal conflict with Chris Berman, 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.

According to the lawsuit, Berman left the voicemail in early 2016, and "nothing was done" when Hill notified ESPN executive Marcia Keegan about the contents of the voicemail.

Berman remains employed by ESPN, but his role has diminished in recent years.

SportsBusiness Daily's John Ourand reported in January 2017 that Berman had signed a new multiyear contract. As part of the deal, ESPN replaced him as host of Sunday NFL Countdown, NFL Primetime and Monday Night Countdown. Berman also lost his hosting duties for the NFL draft and MLB Home Run Derby.

Berman wasn't the only ESPN employee whom Lawrence said behaved inappropriately at the workplace. The lawsuit alleges a hostile work environment and sexual discrimination at the company, per TMZ.

In December, the Boston Globe's Jenn Abelson reported Lawrence alleged SportsCenter anchor John Buccigross had sent her shirtless photographs of himself unsolicited and addressed her as "dollface," "#dreamgirl" and "#longlegs" in messages.

Abelson wrote that Lawrence also alleged "men make unwanted sexual and romantic advances under the guise of networking or mentoring" at ESPN's headquarters in Bristol, Connecticut.

About the Globe story, ESPN spokeswoman Katina Arnold said in a statement the company "conducted a thorough investigation and found these claims to be entirely without merit."