ESPN Reporter Makes Ill-Advised Rant About Violence Against Women, Then Doubles Down On Twitter

This is what is happening at ESPN right now. Stephen A. Smith offends on two different mediums.

1. UPDATE — 3:30 p.m. ET

2. While addressing the recent suspension of NFL running back Ray Rice, ESPN Commentator Stephen A. Smith made several off-putting comments about women provoking attackers.

3. Rice was suspended for two games after being arrested for allegedly knocking out his then-girlfriend, which led Smith to warn women not to “provoke wrong actions”:


We keep talking about the guys. We know you have no business putting your hands on a woman. I don’t know how many times I got to reiterate that.

But as a man who was raised by women, see I know what I’m going to do if somebody touches a female member of my family. I know what I’m going to do, I know what my boys are going to do. I know what, I’m going to have to remind myself that I work for the Worldwide Leader, I’m going to have to get law enforcement officials involved because of what I’m going to be tempted to do.

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.

4. Smith’s colleague and ESPN reporter Michelle Beadle did not take kindly to the rant and responded on Twitter.

I was in an abusive relationship once. I'm aware that men & women can both be the abuser. To spread a message that we not 'provoke' is wrong

— MichelleDBeadle (@Michelle Beadle)

Violence isn't the victim's issue. It's the abuser's. To insinuate otherwise is irresponsible and disgusting. Walk. Away.

— MichelleDBeadle (@Michelle Beadle)

8. Smith responded to the criticism himself on Friday afternoon with a lengthy series of tweets. He apologized to Beadle, but also repeated his point about women and provoking attackers.

This will be a long tweeted message, folks. So please stay with me and let me finish my complete thought before responding...b/c i'm ANNOYED

— stephenasmith (@Stephen A Smith)

In discussing the Ray Rice ruling earlier today on @ESPN_FirstTake, me and @RealSkipBayless ventured into discussing domestic violence.

— stephenasmith (@Stephen A Smith)

Upon hearing what I had to say, although admitting I could've been more articulate on the matter, let me be clear: I don't understand how on

— stephenasmith (@Stephen A Smith)

earth someone could interpret that I somehow was saying women are to blame for domestic violence. And when I saw @MichelleDBeadle -- a

— stephenasmith (@Stephen A Smith)

colleague I have profound respect for -- tweet what she tweeted, enough is enough. Something needs to be said right now. REPEATEDLY i said:

— stephenasmith (@Stephen A Smith)

There is absolutely no excuse to put your hands on a women. REPEATEDLY, I said dudes who do that need to be dealt with. REPEATEDLY, I echoed

— stephenasmith (@Stephen A Smith)

when confronted by it in the past -- when someone was stupid enough to touch a loved one of this man, raised by 4 older sisters, a mom and

— stephenasmith (@Stephen A Smith)

numerous female relatives and loved ones, that man was dealt with. From that point, I simply asked: now what about the other side.

— stephenasmith (@Stephen A Smith)

If a man is pathetic and stupid enough to put his hands on a woman -- which I have NEVER DONE, btw -- of course he needs to pay the price.

— stephenasmith (@Stephen A Smith)

Who on earth is denying that? But what about addressing women on how they can help prevent the obvious wrong being done upon them?

— stephenasmith (@Stephen A Smith)

there's only but so much that can be done after the fact....once the damage is already done. Nothing more. My apologies to @MichelleDBeadle

— stephenasmith (@Stephen A Smith)

And any woman out there who misconstrued what I said. I have always -- and will always -- find violence against a women every bit as

— stephenasmith (@Stephen A Smith)

horrific as women, themselves, find it. Always have. Always will, which my personal behavior exemplifies. I'll strive to be more articulate

— stephenasmith (@Stephen A Smith)

in the future. But be clear, I wasn't BLAMING women for anything. I was simply saying to take all things into consideration for preventative

— stephenasmith (@Stephen A Smith)

purposes. Period.

— stephenasmith (@Stephen A Smith)

23. Beadle has responded on Twitter.

In a week in which LGBT & domestic abuse issues have been primarily discussed in one-sided formats, I stand by my words. #communicatebetter

— MichelleDBeadle (@Michelle Beadle)

24. UPDATE: Smith issued another statement on Twitter saying he “sincerely” apologizes for poorly articulating his thoughts.


My series of tweets a short time ago is not an adequate way to capture my thoughts so I am using a single tweet via Twitlonger to more appropriately and effectively clarify my remarks from earlier today about the Ray Rice situation. I completely recognize the sensitivity of the issues and the confusion and disgust that my comments caused. First off, as I said earlier and I want to reiterate strongly, it is never OK to put your hands on a women. Ever. I understand why that important point was lost in my other comments, which did not come out as I intended. I want to state very clearly. I do NOT believe a woman provokes the horrible domestic abuses that are sadly such a major problem in our society. I wasn’t trying to say that or even imply it when I was discussing my own personal upbringing and the important role the women in my family have played in my life. I understand why my comments could be taken another way. I should have done a better job articulating my thoughts and I sincerely apologize.

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