When ESPN suspends a sports commentator for suggesting women should take action to prevent men from hitting them, it’s not normally expected that a female host on a separate ESPN show would be attacked for it, but that’s how it went down on Twitter after the announcement that Stephen A. Smith would be off the air for an entire week. Michelle Beadle, who hosts Sports Nation on ESPN, spoke out when Smith first made his startling comments, and is still being attacked for doing so.
Last week on ESPN’s First Take, Stephen A. Smith spoke about Ray Rice’s two-game suspension, but Smith strangely segued the commentary into an explanation that women should avoid ‘provoking men to violence.’ Smith may have realized right away that his words would upset some, because he seemed to try to dial them back even as he spoke them.
Michelle Beadle responded on Twitter:
Smith spent the rest of Friday trying to apologize while still sticking to his statement that women should not provoke men to violence. In a series of tweets, followed by a single twitlonger post, Smith explained repeatedly that he did not think women should be blamed for being attacked, but that women should still take responsibility for their role in domestic violence incidents. At last, he promised to address the issue on-air Monday. According to NBC Sports, Smith read the apology from a teleprompter to avoid further incident. Afterward, Think Progress says ESPN employees received notice Smith would not be on the air for a week, but notes that the memo did not use the word ‘suspension.’ Smith accepted the brief hiatus graciously.
Some of his fans however, took it somewhat less kindly, with attacks on Michelle Beadle, and calls to boycott Sports Nation. Many of the tweets are too crude to repost here, but here are a few milder ones:
Michelle Beadle seems to have taken the attacks on her as ESPN suspends her colleague rather lightly, even laughing off the #boycottsportsnation hashtag. Stephen A. Smith returns to ESPN on Wednesday.