Well-known ESPN commentator Stephen A. Smith apologized for his domestic violence rant which took place Friday on First Take. Smith is known for his controversial comments and for being a highly opinionated talk show host. He considered his rant on domestic violence the most egregious error of his career. On Monday Smith apologized publicly for alluding to a woman’s role in the heinous matter of domestic violence.
Smith began by saying some men are violent to begin with, after condemning these men he seemingly added they were really only violent because women provoked them. Although hearing his comments it is easy to see how they could have been misconstrued, he clearly said he never intended to convey that message. Smith’s rant included:
It’s not about him, then. It’s about you, and here’s what I mean by that, I think that just talking about what guys shouldn’t do, we got to also make sure that you do your part to do whatever you can do to try to make sure it doesn’t happen.
We have to make sure that we learn as much as we can about elements of provocation. Not that there is real provocation, but the elements of provocation, you got to make sure that you address them, because we have got to do what we can to try to prevent the situation from happening in any way. And I don’t think that is broached enough, is all I’m saying.”
The televised apology was Smith’s third try at putting out the fire his remarks made. He attempted, unsuccessfully, to address the controversy Friday on Twitter not long after First Take aired. The host of ESPN’s SportsNation, Michelle Beadle, joined in the outrage by calling out Smith and his apparent victim-blaming.
After his first round of tweets seemed to stir the controversy, Smith tried a second time to smooth it over. He said he recognized completely how sensitive the issue of domestic violence is and the disgust and confusion his comments caused. Smith tried hard to reiterate that he strongly believes it is never acceptable to hit a woman. The talk show host said he never intended to convey that it is. He also clarified he understands how that important point got swallowed up in his other comments. Smith said he does not believe a woman provokes the horrible abuse that is sadly a major problem in our society.
Smith owned up to the error of his earlier remarks when he contended that domestic abuse victims should be mindful of the elements of provocation when dealing with those that abuse. The highly opinionated host spewed these words during a discussion surrounding the NFL’s decision to suspend Ray Rice for two games. Rice, Baltimore Ravens running back, was arrested back in February for striking his now wife during an altercation.
The commentator said during the discussion he ventured beyond its scope by alluding that women somehow provoke their abusers. Smith said it was never his intention to say that domestic abuse is somehow a woman’s fault. However, the failure to clearly communicate the message he was trying to relay falls squarely on his shoulders. To have said what he actually said was foolish, according to Smith is an understatement. He sincerely apologized even though he knows that to simply say he is sorry fails to do the matter justice.
Not long after Smith’s pre-recorded apology aired on Monday, ESPN PR issues a statement on the controversy to Richard Deitsch of Sports Illustrated. The statement said Smith’s comments did not reflect the company’s point of view and constructive dialogue on this important topic would continue. It ended by stating Smith recognized his mistakes, as his apology demonstrated, and now has a deeper appreciation for the company values.
Stephen A. Smith apologized for his earlier domestic violence rant. He considered his rant on domestic violence the most egregious error of his career. During Smith’s apology he clarified the message which he spoke was never intended to be taken in a way that says he supports domestic violence or that women are responsible for their own abuse.
By: Cherese Jackson (Virginia)