ESPN sportscaster and Cherry Hill resident Stephen A. Smith has been suspended for one week by the network for comments he made suggesting that female victims of domestic violence should examine their own role in the abuse.
Here’s the internal memo that ESPN head John Skipper sent to staff:
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.
As many of you know, there has been substantial news coverage in the past few days related to comments Stephen A. made last Friday in the wake of the NFL’s decision to suspend Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice for two games following charges of assaulting his then fiancée, now wife, a few months ago.
We’ve said publicly and in this space that those remarks did not reflect our company’s point of view, or our values. They certainly don’t reflect my personal beliefs.
We have been engaged in thoughtful discussion about appropriate next steps. Those conversations have involved a diverse group of women and men in our company. Our women’s ERG has added to the conversation and going forward, I know they will help us continue constructive discussion on this and related issues.
Stephen has called what took place ‘the most egregious mistake’ of his career. I believe his apology was sincere and that he and we have learned from what we’ve collectively experienced.
I’m confident we will all move forward with a greater sense of enlightenment and perspective as the lasting impact of these last few days. I want to thank all those whose thoughts have contributed along the way.
On Friday, during a discussion about Ray Rice, who was caught on tape dragging his then-fiancee out of an elevator at the Revel casino in Atlantic City, Smith said this, speaking of women in domestic abuse situations: “Let’s make sure we don’t do anything to provoke wrong action … we got to also make sure that you can do your part to do whatever you can do to make, to try to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Smith’s colleague, Michelle Beadle, then led a Twitter war over his statement:
So I was just forced to watch this morning’s First Take. A) I’ll never feel clean again B) I’m now aware that I can provoke my own beating.
— Michelle Beadle (@MichelleDBeadle) July 25, 2014
As the outrage continued to grow, Smith apologized with a long series of tweets and then offered an on-air apology on Monday, calling the incident the “most egregious error” of his career.
“My words came across that it is somehow a women’s fault,” said Smith. “This was not my intent. It is not what I was 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 its proper justice to be quite honest. But I do sincerely apologize.”
Smith will return to ESPN on Wednesday, August 6th. It is unclear whether the suspension is paid or unpaid.