ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith this week challenged Mark Levin on “The Mark Levin Show” over the conservative talker’s call for the Philadelphia Eagles to cut ties with or punish star wide receiver DeSean Jackson for publishing anti-Jewish conspiracy theories of Adolf Hitler and Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan on his Instagram.
Smith called into Levin’s show to tell him to remember how the Eagles handled former wide receiver Riley Cooper, who was caught saying the “n-word” at a concert.
[Relevant portion of the audio beginning around the 1:00:21 mark]
“You want to take issue with me?” Levin asked Smith to open the call.
Smith agreed with Levin in saying Jackson’s post was “inappropriate,” “uncalled for” and should not have happened, noting that he has committed to educating himself.
“Well, listen, I would say to you is that you are right to be incredibly upset about DeSean Jackson and what he had to say,” Smith replied. “It was inappropriate. It was uncalled for. Definitely, there was no excuse for him to say what he did say. And then his apology was a bit convoluted, to say the least. … On top of it all, you know, the Jewish community itself has reached out to him and said that he needs to be educated and he has opened himself up to receiving that kind of education because he feels like his words were misconstrued and then when he was asked to explain, it was convoluted, to say the least. That’s where I’m coming from with that.”
He continued, “What I took issue, specifically with what you’re saying, is the Eagles should just let him go no matter what and how upset you would be with them if they were to keep him on board. Keep in mind you had a player in Riley Cooper years ago that offended the African-American community in 2013 –”
Levin interrupted, “Stephen, I don’t know who the hell Riley Cooper is. I don’t follow this stuff as closely as you do. I really don’t. If some jackass made a comment about a black American that way, you know exactly where I’d come down. Now, that said, this is a hard mistake! You’re praising Hitler? I mean, to Jews … that is it.”
Smith said he called Jackson personally to ask why he made his post. He said Jackson told him he was trying to uplift black people in the wake of George Floyd’s death.
“DeSean Jackson, when I found out about his Instagram post, I called him, and the first words out of my mouth were: ‘What the hell are you doing? Why would you do something like that?’ And he said, ‘Well, I was just trying to uplift black folks and talk to them about being positive even in the face of controversy and all of this other stuff.”
Smith added, “I said, ‘What the hell are you doing mentioning Hitler? Why would you do that? That makes no sense.'”
“What did he say to that?” Levin asked.
Smith replied, “He said, ‘Listen, I was hanging with my cousin and these guys started talking about things from a historical perspective and I was looking at us as black people and some the things we’ve been going through since the George Floyd killing and these conversations were happening, so I just wanted reach out and try to give positive input to the black community.’ And I said: ‘By mentioning Hitler? It makes no sense.'”
Smith concluded by urging Levin to “be consistent” because the Eagles signed Cooper to a big contract not long after he was caught using the n-word.
“People screw up a lot, particularly when it’s athletes trying to step out of their lane. Some athletes are incredibly knowledgeable, some athletes are incredibly not so,” he explained.
Follow Trent Baker on Twitter @MagnifiTrent