ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith Apologizes For Remarks About Domestic Violence

So, Stephen A. Smith had a bust weekend. The ESPN panelist kicked off Friday with some what-the-fuck-did-he-just-say? remarks about victims who “provoke” domestic violence and all Internet hell broke loose. On the show “First Take,” Smith and other panelists were discussing Ray Rice, an NFL player who physically assaulted his now-wife and has been suspended for two games. (By the way, the NFL is quite rightly being criticized for this slap on the wrist punishment — another player is currently being suspended for a full year for smoking pot.)  In seeming sympathy with abusers, Smith shared his opinion at two different points in the conversation that some DV can be provoked.

“Let’s make sure we don’t do anything to provoke wrong actions,” he said, adding later, “We … got to make sure [victims] can do your part to do whatever you can do to make, to try to make sure it doesn’t happen.”

He was roundly criticized, including by his ESPN colleague Michelle Beatle. This morning on ESPN, Smith strongly apologized for his remarks and said he had communicated poorly. While I’m not sure that I believe the man simply communicated his thoughts inelegantly — although his original comments were rambling, it seemed pretty clear what he meant by “provoke” — Smith seems to have genuinely learned why such remarks were not only insensitive, but dangerous, for domestic violence victims. Unlike a lot of high-profile apologies, Smith was thorough in his apology, placed the blame squarely on himself, and seemed sincerely chastened. I get the sense Smith had a rough weekend with his mother and four older sisters. [YouTube]