The Untouchables: Stephen A. Smith and ESPN's Protected Inner Circle
Stephen A. Smith has not been suspended. Of course, you’ve all heard that he has. Because normally when your boss gives you a week off, unplanned, especially after you’ve attempted to legitimize spousal battery, it’s because you’re being suspended.
ESPN would not even go so far as to use the “S” word when describing Stephen A.’s departure. Instead, the network announced in a Tuesday press release “that Stephen A. Smith will not appear on First Take or ESPN Radio for the next week. He will return to ESPN next Wednesday.”
So, Smith isn’t suspended. He’s just kind of disappearing from the worldwide leader’s television and radio formats for a week. Nothing to see here. Move along.
Stephen A. is of course marinating in a vile stew of his own making for his comments on Friday’s edition of First Take when he said:
But domestic violence or whatever the case may be, with men putting their hands on women, is obviously a very real, real issue in our society. And I think that just talking about what guys shouldn’t do, we got to also make sure that you can do your part to do whatever you can do to make, to try to make sure it doesn’t happen. We know they’re wrong. We know they’re criminals. We know they probably deserve to be in jail. In Ray Rice’s case, he probably deserves more than a 2-game suspension which we both acknowledged. 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, you got to make sure that you address them, because we’ve got to do is do what we can to try to prevent the situation from happening in any way. And I don’t think that’s broached enough, is all I’m saying. No point of blame.
Rush Limbaugh’s mere observation that the media wanted to see a black quarterback succeed was apparently serious enough for the four-letter network to skip the whole “suspension” thing entirely and go straight for the resign-or-be-fired bit. Yet, Stephen A. Smith’s provocative take on provocation merits him essentially a one week vacation. Makes sense, if you’re on bath salts.
But Stephen A. wasn’t the only member of the four-letter network to release his inner crazy. On last Friday’s edition of Pardon the Interruption, Jason Whitlock pointed out that none of us really know what happened in that elevator between Ray Rice and his then-fiancée, and maybe we should be a little more “trusting” of the authorities who investigated the case—you know, seeing as how they’re the ones who are closer to the facts.
Funny, I remember Whitlock being extraordinarily distrusting of the authorities in the Trayvon Martin case. In fact, Whitlock made the moral case for suspicion of the police: “African-Americans are justifiably suspicious of the police and the criminal justice system. When an unarmed 17-year-old black boy is killed by a volunteer watchman with Zimmerman's checkered history, it is perfectly logical for African-Americans to demand that the authorities go above and beyond to be fair.”
So, how is it that the police are to be completely trusted and believed when a black man knocks out his wife? But when a white-Hispanic (that still makes no sense to me, but whatever) shoots a black teenager all of a sudden we are to be “justifiably suspicious?”
Because, just like in the mainstream media, the liberal sports media doesn’t really give a rip about the victims of crimes whether they’re black or female. What they care about are the perpetrators of the crimes. It’s not about who got killed or robbed, it’s about who the killer or robber was, and can they turn him into a villain representing social injustice?
Like the proverbial tree falling in the woods with no one around to hear, there is no true victim unless there’s a perp they can use to advance their agenda. George Zimmerman was white, kind of. But in any event he was close enough to being white that Jason Whitlock and others felt they could use him as an example of racial profiling. Had George Zimmerman been black, Trayvon Martin’s name would have faded away in the same obscurity that shrouds nearly all black men who are killed by other black men.
When the liberal sports media descended on Durham, North Carolina in 2006 to demand “justice” for a black stripper who had allegedly been raped, they weren’t there for “women’s rights,” they were there because the three guys who allegedly raped her were supposedly rich, white kids from the South. How else could Selena Roberts actually get promoted after being the lead reporter for the New York Times on that case? After she got nearly every factual event completely wrong and repeatedly slandered three innocent kids? It happened because she advanced the Left’s Jim Crow-era agenda, facts be damned, and her career was advanced accordingly.
Conversely, why were so relatively few reporters sent to Tallahassee last year to demand justice and write op-eds for the victim of Jameis Winston’s alleged sexual assault? They were held back because the alleged perp was black—meaning, there was no real victim, and no story. As John Rocker wrote at the time: “I’m sure if Winston looked a lot more like the average Duke Lacrosse player, we’d hear a different story than the one that is currently being pushed by the media.”
In this light, it’s not hard to see why ESPN would punish Smith without even using the word “suspension.” In fact, a better question would be: would ESPN have punished Stephen A. at all if Michelle Beadle hadn’t publicly gone after him on Twitter for what he said?
Stephen A. said virtually the exact same thing in 2012 when Chad Johnson allegedly struck his wife. Back then, like recently, Smith said that he was against domestic violence, and that those who perpetrate it should be punished, but. . .
There are plenty of instances where provocation comes into consideration, instigation comes into consideration. And I will be on the record right here on national television and say that I am sick and tired of men constantly being vilified and accused of things and we stop there. I'm saying, "Can we go a step further?" Since we want to dig all deeper into Chad Johnson, can we dig in deep to her?
Hmm. Sure sounds like Mr. Don’t Make Me Tell Her Twice said basically the same thing two years ago. Yet, Stephen A. Smith was not suspended for those remarks in 2012. Why? Could it be because no woman publicly called him out two years ago?
The fact is ESPN was never going to do anything to Smith for what he said about Ray Rice last week. The perp wasn’t the right color, nor was the commentator. It didn’t advance the agenda. Tony Dungy’s refreshing moment of courage and honesty when he said he wouldn’t draft Michael Sam was a different story. Then, the sports media could say or imply that Dungy’s hateful and intolerant Christian faith was the true source of his disdain for Sam. That worked, that advanced the agenda. That story was green-lit because the Left never misses a chance to stick it to those guys who talk about loving your neighbor and turning the other cheek.
Stephen A. was only disciplined after a co-worker ignited the Twitter mob, and even then the “discipline” amounted to little more than being swatted with a Nerf hammer—nothing that hurts too bad, and nothing that will leave a mark. As for the mark left by the liberal sports media, which sees victims as nothing more than pawns in their game of political warfare, that stain will remain.
Dylan Gwinn is the host of The Mighty Gwinn Show heard on Yahoo! Sports Radio every Saturday and Sunday from 1-5 EST. Follow him on Twitter @themightygwinn.