Stephen A. Smith, the former Inky sports columnist, has apologized for comments he made on ESPN last week that seemed to excuse men who had been “provoked” by women into committing domestic violence. The comments came after the NFL suspended Baltimore’s Ray Rice just two games for violence committed against his wife.
Stephen A. Smith owned up to making the “most egregious error” of his career during a recent rant about domestic violence. The admission and accompany apology came after Smith contended during ESPN2’s “First Take” debate program on Friday that victims of domestic violence need to be mindful of “the elements of provocation” when dealing with abusers. The remarks occurred during a discussion of the NFL’s decision to suspend Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice for two games following his arrest in February for allegedly striking his then-fiancee during an altercation.
“On Friday, speaking right here on “First Take” on the subject of domestic violence, I made what can only amount to the most egregious error of my career,” Smith said in the taped segment that began the program on Monday morning. “While elaborating on thoughts concerning the NFL’s ruling versus Ray Rice following a domestic dispute with his then-fiancee, I ventured beyond the scope of our discussion by alluding to a woman’s role in such heinous matters, going so far as to use the word “provoke” in my diatribe. My words came across that it is somehow a woman’s fault. This was not my intent. It is not what I’m trying to say. Yet the failure to clearly articulate something different lies squarely on my shoulders. To say what I actually said was foolish is an understatement. To say I was wrong is obvious. To apologize to say I’m sorry, doesn’t do the matter it’s proper justice, to be quite honest. But I do sincerely apologize.”
On “First Take,” Smith noted that men “have no business putting [their] hands on a woman” but implied that women sometimes are provocateurs. He was quickly called out on Twitter by colleague Michelle Beadle, who wrote: “A) I’ll never feel clean again B) I’m now aware that I can provoke my own beating.”
It’s not the first time, the Post noted, pointing to Smith’s 2012 commentary about NFL player Chad Johnson’s arrest for hitting his wife:
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?
This one may haunt Smith awhile.