Stephen A. Smith sends surprising message to ESPN about attacking Trump


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Few ESPN personalities, if any, elicit a stronger response than “First Take” co-host Stephen A. Smith.

The verbose Smith is beloved by some for his fiery passion, and utterly loathed by others for his general excess.

Many sports fans point to Smith as being emblematic of one of ESPN’s larger problems, focusing more on “clickable” sizzle than actual sports substance.

And to be clear, ESPN is rife with problems.

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Ratings are sagging, subscribers are leaving in droves, money is hemorrhaging, and employees are being let go at an unprecedented rate.

Oh, and ESPN has found itself in the cross-hairs of President Donald Trump after being a media darling of the Obama administration.

The feud with Trump — perhaps more so than any issue since Caitlyn Jenner won the Arthur Ashe Courage Award — has drawn the ire of quite a few sports fans.

And to clarify, the first shots fired in the feud with Trump came from ESPN.

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“Sportscenter” host Jemele Hill drew widespread criticism when she took to social media to accuse Trump of being a white supremacist.

The White House promptly fired back, calling Hill’s baseless assertion as a “fireable offense.”

Hill wasn’t the only one, with new ESPN personality Katie Nolan jumping into the fray a few months later. Nolan went on an expletive-filled tirade to question Trump’s intelligence on television.

Shockingly, there’s been one dissenting voice in ESPN regarding feuding with Trump.

And that’s the familiarly loud voice of Smith, who’s somehow mastered the art of speaking in all caps.

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In an interview with Sporting News, Smith urged his co-workers to refrain from picking fights with the president.

“Do I believe the president should be wasting his time commenting about stuff like that? No. Do I believe the President has been a bit juvenile in his behavior? Yes he has,” Smith said when asked about ESPN’s feud with Trump.

“Having said that, it’s one thing to attack what he does, it’s an entirely different matter to attack him. When you attack him, then we are stepping out of our lane. We are a sports network,” Smith said, in a moment of nascent clarity.

Smith went on to describe the position that ESPN’s employees put their company in when attacking Trump.

“We have an obligation to wake up every day with the mindset that we not only speak for ourselves but we speak on behalf of the brand. It is not a brand that we own. It is a brand that employs us,” Smith said.

“Yes, the president is going to say what he has to say. Yes, he’s going to venture in our lane to the point where it’s apropos for us to respond. But we also need to be cognizant of the fact it’s incumbent upon us to leave it there and not extend beyond that point. We’re a sports network. You become successful. You sustain a level of success by giving people what they expect.”

As surprising as it is to see Stephen A. Smith offer surprisingly good advice to his colleagues, as the old adage goes, even a broken clock is right twice a day.

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Bryan Chai has written news and sports for The Western Journal for more than five years and has produced more than 1,300 stories. He specializes in the NBA and NFL as well as politics.
Bryan Chai has written news and sports for The Western Journal for more than five years and has produced more than 1,300 stories. He specializes in the NBA and NFL as well as politics. He graduated with a BA in Creative Writing from the University of Arizona. He is an avid fan of sports, video games, politics and debate.
Class of 2010 University of Arizona. BEAR DOWN.
Phoenix, Arizona
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