ESPN sports commentator Stephen A. Smith is walking back some remarks he made about the Ray Rice case. On First Take, Smith spoke about domestic violence, saying that a man should never put his hands on a woman — and further, that a woman should never “provoke” a man to do so.
Smith’s comments sounded to many like victim blaming, and left not only audience, but co-hosts, with a bitter taste in their mouth. Sports Nation’s Michelle Beadle spoke out on Twitter about the things Smith said:
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 public outrage grew over Smith’s response, he, too, turned to Twitter to express an apology. The tweets have been deleted, but the Baltimore Sun quotes them in full. The tweets do not retract anything. Instead, Smith says he could have been “more articulate” but that he doesn’t understand how anyone could think he was blaming women for domestic violence. He goes on to explain again that a woman must take “preventative measures” to keep from being victims.
“In no way was I accusing a women of being wrong. I was simply saying what that preventive measures always need to be addressed because 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 And any woman out there who misconstrued what I said.”
After further blowback, Smith deleted the tweets, and posted anew.
The Twitlonger post reads:
“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.”
It doesn’t seem to have helped Stephen A.’s case much in the eyes of viewers, though:
@stephenasmith how is ESPN PR allowing you to bury yourself like this?
— Justin (@JustW365) July 25, 2014
Further responses called Smith a misogynist, said his thoughts were clear but misguided, and even suggested Stephen should delete his Twitter account.
The NY Daily News notes this isn’t the first time Stephen Smith has spoken about a woman’s culpability as a victim of violence. When Chad Johnson was arrested for domestic violence in 2012, Smith suggested Johnson’s wife may have exaggerated the facts, and suggested that women’s role in domestic violence cases is ignored.
Perhaps Stephen A. Smith has taken the advice of followers seriously, though: he hasn’t tweeted since Friday.