ESPN Panelist: Women Should Not 'Provoke' Domestic Violence

Update 7/30/2014 at 8:30 a.m. ET: After public outcry did not subside following Stephen A. Smith’s apology, ESPN announced on Tuesday afternoon that Smith had been suspended for a week for his comments.

By Albert Lin

ESPN personality Stephen A. Smith is caught in a firestorm after saying that women should not “provoke” their husbands or boyfriends into physical violence.

During an episode of ESPN’s First Take on Friday, Smith, who is as loud and provocative as the nickname “Screamin’ A.” suggests, was discussing the two-game suspension handed to Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice for a domestic-violence incident. The suspension has been widely derided as insufficient.

In a long-winded comment, Smith said, among other things:

      “Let’s make sure we don’t do anything to provoke wrong actions”;

      “Let’s try to make sure that we can do our part in making sure that that doesn’t happen”;

    and, “We also have to make sure that we learn as much as we can about elements of provocation because we’ve got to do what we can to try to prevent the situation from happening in any way.”

(Smith used the first-person plural throughout his comments as a device to illustrate how he would advise female members of his familyhe was raised by a single mother and four older sisters.)

The comments drew the attention of outspoken fellow ESPN personality Michelle Beadle, who tweeted

Smith immediately responded in a series of tweets, which he has since deleted and consolidated into a single statement, saying in part that he could have been “more articulate on the matter” but otherwise standing his ground. “In no way was I accusing a woman of being wrong,” he tweeted. “I was simply saying that preventative measures always need to be addressed because there’s only so much that can be done after the fact.” He apologized to Beadle but not to the general public.

After a weekend of damage control, First Take on Monday aired a taped apology from Smith in which he called the comments “the most egregious error of my career.”

ESPN’s p.r. team also issued the following statement:

“We will continue to have constructive dialogue on this important topic. Stephen’s comments last Friday do not reflect our company’s point of view. As his apology demonstrates, he recognizes his mistakes and has a deeper appreciation of our company values.”

An ESPN spokesperson told that no further comment is planned.

However, Deadspin points out that Smith made similar comments in 2012 after former NFL wide receiver Chad Johnson was accused of headbutting his then wife. In this case, though, Smith’s comments were even more slanted against women.

“There are plenty of instances where provocation comes into consideration, instigation comes into consideration, and I will be on the record right here on national television and say that I am sick and tired of men constantly being vilified and accused of things and we stop there. I’m saying, ‘Can we go a step further’ Since we want to dig all deeper into Chad Johnson, can we dig in deep to her”

Related Posts

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *