“First Take” opened with a canned Stephen A. Smith apology, for suggesting women had a responsibility not “to provoke” physical abuse. He termed it “the most egregious error of (his) career.” The apology was followed by commentary from the show’s host/wrangler Cari Champion. The show then drifted into more comfortable territory, hammering LeBron in July.
ESPN PR added the following statement on the matter.
“We will continue to have constructive dialogue on this important topic. Stephen’s comments last Friday do not reflect our company’s point of view. As his apology demonstrates, he recognizes his mistakes and has a deeper appreciation of our company values.”
Smith’s apology won’t satisfy his critics. But nothing short of him being removed from air on a permanent basis would. Poor articulation only exacerbated commentary that was insensitive and dumb. The nuts and bolts of the apology were adequate, for what we presume was profound ignorance rather than malice.
Offering Cari Champion the opportunity to voice an articulate and thoughtful opinion on the Ray Rice as a woman is something the show should have done in real time.
This comment was not a one-off event. “First Take” has a history of producing these sorts of moments, whether it is gauging Robert Griffin III’s blackness, discussing the merits of selecting white Americans in the NBA Draft or Smith using a racial slur, on more than one occasion. They are a logical outgrowth of a show which lacks intellectual heft and, it often appears, common decency.