ESPN’s Non-Suspension Suspension of Stephen A. Smith for His “Take” on Domestic Violence

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
July 29 2014 5:23 PM

ESPN’s Non-Suspension Suspension of Stephen A. Smith for His “Take” on Domestic Violence

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Stephen A. Smith will be off air for a week.

Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for Paley Center for Media

Stephen A. Smith has a lot of opinions about a lot of things—usually sports related.  But when the ESPN First Take panelist dipped his tow into opinionating on the NFL’s suspension of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice on Friday, things unraveled. Smith’s rambling discourse on domestic violence—after Rice was suspended a paltry two games by the NFL for knocking his now-wife unconscious at an Atlantic City casino—implied women that are victims of domestic violence should make sure they don’t provoke getting knocked unconscious. The remarks, understandably, didn’t go over well. Here’s the gist of what he had to say (you can read his full remarks here).

"But what I’ve tried to employ the female members of my family, some of who you all met and talked to and what have you, is that again, and this what, I’ve done this all my life, let’s make sure we don’t do anything to provoke wrong actions, because if I come, or somebody else come, whether it’s law enforcement officials, your brother or the fellas that you know, if we come after somebody has put their hands on you, it doesn’t negate the fact that they already put their hands on you. So let’s try to make sure that we can do our part in making sure that that doesn’t happen.
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On Monday, Smith apologized, which ESPN seemed to accept, saying in a 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.” On Tuesday, however, ESPN appeared to retract its acceptance, announcing that Smith will not be on air for a week. “ESPN announced today that Stephen A. Smith will not appear on First Take or ESPN Radio for the next week. He will return to ESPN next Wednesday,” the First Take website reads. The network did not elaborate on the reasons for his removal.

Elliot Hannon is a writer in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter.

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