BC Beat

ESPN Hosts Wage Twitter Battle over NFL Comments

Michelle Beadle rips Stephen A. Smith over his 'First Take' on Rice domestic violence penalty 7/25/2014 06:00:00 PM

UPDATED: Sunday, July 27, 5:15 p.m. ET.

The issue of domestic violence has overtaken the sports media circuit the past two days, bubbling over Friday with two high-profile ESPN personalities tussling on Twitter.

The media firestorm first started Thursday, when the NFL handed out a two-game suspension to Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, who was arrested for allegedly knocking then-fiancé Janay Palmer unconscious in an Atlantic City casino in February. (They have since married.)

The two-game suspension was immediately slammed by many as being way too lenient and the league was taken to task for not taking the very serious issue of domestic violence seriously.

Then on Friday morning, during ESPN2’s debate show First Take, cohost Stephen A. Smith broached the topic of domestic violence, and appeared to insinuate that women bear at least some responsibility for “provoking” the violence.

Video of Smith’s comments:

 

Shortly after First Take aired on the East Coast, fellow ESPN-er Michelle Beadle, who cohosts SportsNation on ESPN2, did not take too kindly to Smith’s on-air remarks.

So 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.
— Michelle Beadle (@MichelleDBeadle) July 25, 2014

I'm thinking about wearing a miniskirt this weekend...I'd hate to think what I'd be asking for by doing so @stephenasmith. #dontprovoke
— Michelle Beadle (@MichelleDBeadle) July 25, 2014

I was in an abusive relationship once. I'm aware that men & women can both be the abuser. To spread a message that we not 'provoke' is wrong
— Michelle Beadle (@MichelleDBeadle) July 25, 2014

Violence isn't the victim's issue. It's the abuser's. To insinuate otherwise is irresponsible and disgusting. Walk. Away.
— Michelle Beadle (@MichelleDBeadle) July 25, 2014

Shortly after Beadle’s series of tweets, Smith himself took to Twitter in an attempt to clarify himself and apologized to his ESPN co-worker.

This will be a long tweeted message, folks. So please stay with me and let me finish my complete thought before responding…b/c i'm ANNOYED—
Stephen A Smith (@stephenasmith) July 25, 2014

In discussing the Ray Rice ruling earlier today on @ESPN_FirstTake, me and @RealSkipBayless ventured into discussing domestic violence.—
Stephen A Smith (@stephenasmith) July 25, 2014

Upon hearing what I had to say, although admitting I could've been more articulate on the matter, let me be clear: I don't understand how on—
Stephen A Smith (@stephenasmith) July 25, 2014

earth someone could interpret that I somehow was saying women are to blame for domestic violence. And when I saw @MichelleDBeadle — a—
Stephen A Smith (@stephenasmith) July 25, 2014

colleague I have profound respect for — tweet what she tweeted, enough is enough. Something needs to be said right now.
REPEATEDLY i said:—
Stephen A Smith (@stephenasmith) July 25, 2014

There is absolutely no excuse to put your hands on a women. REPEATEDLY, I said dudes who do that need to be dealt with. REPEATEDLY, I echoed—
Stephen A Smith (@stephenasmith) July 25, 2014

when confronted by it in the past — when someone was stupid enough to touch a loved one of this man, raised by 4 older sisters, a mom and—
Stephen A Smith (@stephenasmith) July 25, 2014

numerous female relatives and loved ones, that man was dealt with. From that point, I simply asked: now what about the other side.—
Stephen A Smith (@stephenasmith) July 25, 2014

If a man is pathetic and stupid enough to put his hands on a woman — which I have NEVER DONE, btw — of course he needs to pay the price.—
Stephen A Smith (@stephenasmith) July 25, 2014

Who on earth is denying that? But what about addressing women on how they can help prevent the obvious wrong being done upon them?—
Stephen A Smith (@stephenasmith) July 25, 2014

In no way was I accusing a women of being wrong. I was simply saying what that preventive measures always need to be addressed because—
Stephen A Smith (@stephenasmith) July 25, 2014

there's only but so much that can be done after the fact….once the damage is already done. Nothing more.
My apologies to @MichelleDBeadle
Stephen A Smith (@stephenasmith) July 25, 2014

And any woman out there who misconstrued what I said. I have always — and will always — find violence against a women every bit as—
Stephen A Smith (@stephenasmith) July 25, 2014

horrific as women, themselves, find it. Always have. Always will, which my personal behavior exemplifies. I'll strive to be more articulate—
Stephen A Smith (@stephenasmith) July 25, 2014

in the future. But be clear, I wasn't BLAMING women for anything. I was simply saying to take all things into consideration for preventative—
Stephen A Smith (@stephenasmith) July 25, 2014

purposes. Period.—
Stephen A Smith (@stephenasmith) July 25, 2014

About an hour later, Smith issued a second apology:

My series of tweets a short time ago is not an adequate way to capture my thoughts so I am using a single (cont) http://t.co/vkOIFbCGeB
— Stephen A Smith (@stephenasmith) July 25, 2014

On Sunday afternoon, ESPN released a statement saying Smith would address the comments on Monday's First Take. 

"There has been a lot of discussion and reflection on the topic since Friday and it will continue. Stephen A. Smith plans to address the situation on Monday's First Take and we will have more to say on Monday as well."

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