ESPN said it would remove Stephen A. Smith from programming for about a week in the wake of controversial remarks the popular host made about women and domestic violence.
Smith, who co-hosts “First Take” on ESPN2, drew notice last Friday when, during a discussion of the NFL’s two-game suspension of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice over allegations he beat his fiancée. Smith suggested that victims of abuse might also be responsible for provoking it. “In Ray Rice’s case, he probably deserves more than a two-game suspension, which we both acknowledged,” he said. “But at the same time, we also have to make sure that we learn as much as we can about elements of provocation. Not that there’s real provocation, but the elements of provocation.”
The remarks drew the ire of ESPN personality and host Michelle Beadle, who took to Twitter to voice her concern about what Smith had said. Beadle’s tweets illustrate the divisive nature of the Smith remarks, as it is likely rare for one ESPN host to take on another in a social-media venue.
“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,” the Walt Disney-owned outlet said in a statement.