ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith is coming under fire for comments he made on-air Friday morning that seem to suggest that women are in some respects to blame when they become victims of domestic violence, reports the Los Angeles Times’ Show Tracker.
Smith, who was discussing a two-game suspension for Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice for an alleged altercation between him and his then-fiancee, appeared to imply that some domestic-violence victims are at fault. The incident with Rice ended with his then-fiancee unconscious in an elevator.
“Let’s make sure we don’t do anything to provoke wrong actions,” Smith said, which the report said appeared to be advice directed toward women. He said it’s not OK for a man to hurt a woman, but added, “Let’s try to do our part in making sure that doesn’t happen.”
Smith noted that while Rice “probably” deserved a longer suspension, “at the same time, we also have to make sure that we learn as much as we can about elements of provocation.”
The segment was criticized by fellow ESPN host Michelle Beadle, who wrote on Twitter that she would “never feel clean again,” while an official with the National Network to End Domestic Violence said she was “outraged” by Smith’s comments.
In a statement, Smith said, “I want to state very clearly. I do NOT believe a woman provokes the horrible domestic abuses that are sadly such a major problem in our society. I wasn’t trying to say that or even imply it when I was discussing my own personal upbringing and the important role the women in my family have played in my life.
Here’s a clip of Smith’s on-air comments Friday morning: