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The Steven A. Smith Controversy

Curiously, those with the most media experience seem to be the ones with the most recurring cases of foot-in-mouth disease. Last week’s patient was Steven A. Smith, ESPN talking-head and commentator known for his strong opinions and animated style. Unfortunately, he did not articulate this one as artfully as he would have liked.

Last Friday on ESPN’s ‘First Take,’ Smith provided his take on Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice’s two-game suspension for domestic violence, and amidst his diatribe, made the insane comment advising women not to ‘provoke wrong actions’ in domestic disputes.

Firestorm: engage.

Social media lit-up immediately, from calling Smith out as a misogynist to calling for his job. The story was no longer about Ray Rice, but about the deep and overriding issue of domestic abuse. Smith also did not receive any help from the NFL, who suspended Jacksonville Jaguars wide-receiver Justin Blackmon an entire season for failing a drug test, contributing to the conversation about their disciplinary priorities. Two-days for domestic violence. A season for smoking marijuana.

Smith issued an apology on ‘First Take’ yesterday, but for someone as boisterous and opinionated as Steven, came off as flat and rehearsed. There will be no Don Imus-esque reprisal for Smith, he will merely weather the bad press and remain in-place as an ESPN commentator. You would think that being a part of the media would instill a strong sense of media savvy in these individuals, but these situations unfold almost weekly. Blame it on the human condition, blame it on a hot-mic or a bad day at the office; but if you’re Steven A. Smith and you begin blaming the victim, the respect of your audience and overall credibility will assuredly take a hit.

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