His topic was the NFL punishment of Ray Rice, but as things tend to get on his show "First Take", Smith went on and on and on, eventually landing in a place that got him in hot water. Hot water with who? Michelle Beadle, that's who. She took to Twitter to call Smith's attention to one particular part of his soliloquy about the treatment of women by men who get violent with them.
There have been others at the four-letter network who have been punished for criticizing colleagues, including Bill Simmons who got wrapped on the knuckles for it. So far, Beadle has gone without public shaming. You'd have to ask ESPN why, and perhaps it has to do with the subject matter of Smith's comments, the fact that he's his own worst enemy and the network loves him that way.
Stephen A. Smith's quote reads like this in part: [A man has] "...no business putting [his] hands on a woman, We know [abusing women is] wrong," Smith says up front.
But that's just background for what came next. You might want to ask why the bombastic sports journalist didn't stop there, but if you know Stephen A you know that he is encouraged to engage in monologues when a thoughtful sentence should suffice.
As he was wrapping up he had a helpful suggestion or perhaps a warning to women who are victims of abuse. Smith didn't actually say that a woman was "asking for it". Rather he said there were reasons bad things might happen to them if they provide the abuser with "the elements of provocation."
Michelle Beadle could not contain herself and resorted to tweeting her outrage directly at Smith. "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." More tweeting followed, "To spread a message that we not 'provoke' is wrong," and then finally, "Violence isn't the victim's issue. It's the abuser's. To insinuate otherwise is irresponsible and disgusting. Walk. Away."
Stephen A had to defend himself via Twitter of course, and compounded his mistake of over-talking, trying to use different words and phrases to mean the same thing and generally being himself. He countered Beadle's three tweets with 15, count 'em 15.
To be merciful, I present only two of them that capture the essence of his comeback: "But be clear, I wasn't BLAMING women for anything. I was simply saying to take all things into consideration for preventative purposes. Period."
Since he was using the Ray Rice incident as the context for his remarks, one has to ask, does Smith mean that Rice's then fiancee shouldn't have been in an elevator cab with the door closed to take "preventative purposes"? None of us know what happened to have ended in security camera video of Rice's lady out cold, being dragged out and left on the floor in front of the elevator.
Manny Ramirez loved the phrase, "It's Manny being Manny". Well this is Stephen A being Stephen A. It doesn't mean we have to understand or agree. It just means Smith should get an elocution lesson and have someone sit him down and say. "Brevity works, buddy". That's not what he's paid for however, and it's not what keeps him opposite the other blowhard on "First Take", Skip Bayless.
Smith revels in the impressions of his style and will have to take the bad along with the good when reactions aren't reverential. But first, wouldn't you pay money to hear his second explanation of the first explanation of the original comments? Yeah, me neither.