Author Decries ESPN Layoffs, Slams Network for Continuing to Employ Stephen A. Smith

stephen a smith

Calling the layoffs at ESPN the end of journalism, Jeff Pearlman, an author and former writer for Sports Illustrated, is decrying the firing of a long list of sports reporters. On the other hand, he is particularly upset that the network is still paying millions to the “screaming” Stephen A. Smith.

As reaction to the mass layoffs at cable sports network ESPN, on his personal blog Pearlman mourned over the ESPN carnage calling the mass firing “heartbreaking.”

The Bad Guys Won author lamented the loss of journalists like Ed Werder, Paul Kuharsky, Jean-Jacques Taylor, Dana O’Neil, Mike Goodman, and others. But, then he came to ESPN commentator Stephen A. Smith.

“Stephen A. Smith was not fired,” Pearlman pointed out before going on to explain why he thinks this is so:

His $3.5 million-per-year salary is safe. And do you know why? Because he’s really good at yelling. And screaming. And shouting. And barking. And stewing. And making 20-second arguments over things he almost certainly doesn’t really care about. Which, of course, shouldn’t detract from his long and storied career as a reporter, where he befriended (and protected) players he liked and threatened those who dared challenge the Tao of Stephen A. Like, ahem, Kevin Durant.

Pearlman then went on to make a larger point about “the decline of good journalism,” and the “decline in the demand for good journalism.”

“At some point in modern history, we (as a people) decided we prefer personalities and pizzazz over substance and detail,” Pearlman expounded. “Our zest for a well-reported story has been overtaken by our zest for the mindless carnival barkings of hacks like Stephen A. and Skip Bayless.”

The current climate, Pearlman said, causes people like Smith and Bayless to “adapt to the times” and said they have “surrendered [their] integrity card and went full-blown Ringling Bros.”

Pearlman then accused ESPN of “discarding” its better journalists “with ruthless and reckless abandon.”

The author concluded by saying ESPN had launched “an assault on the profession” of sports journalism:

Don’t be fooled by ESPN’s upbeat statements of corporate adjustment. Don’t buy the inevitable “We’ll be a stronger company” baloney.

This is a shedding of quality.

This is an assault on the profession.

This is is not the first time Pearlman has criticized Stephen A. Smith. A few years ago, Pearlman insisted that ESPN has a Stephen A. Smith problem. In another broadside, Pearlman slammed Smith as someone who “used to be a journalist,” and then told him to “go f*ck yourself.”

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at