ESPN Panelist: Women Should Try Not To ‘Provoke’ Domestic Violence (VIDEO)

Frank Micelotta/Invision/AP

An ESPN host who suggested Friday that women should try not to “provoke” domestic violence only seemed to make matters worse by later insisting on Twitter that he wasn’t “blaming” women for anything.

Provocative “First Take” panelist Stephen A. Smith was discussing the National Football League’s decision to suspend Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice for two games, after he was indicted for allegedly physically assaulting his then-fiancee. The suspension was widely panned as lenient.

Smith said during his ESPN appearance that a man has “no business” putting his hands on a woman, but then went on to say that he was raised by women and encouraged the female members of his family to “make sure we don’t do anything to provoke wrong actions.”

“I think that just talking about what guys shouldn’t do, we got to also make sure that you can do your part to do whatever you can do to try to make sure it doesn’t happen … but at the same time, we also have to make sure that we learn as much as we can about elements of provocation,” he added. “Not that there’s real provocation, but the elements of provocation, you got to make sure that you address them. Because we’ve got to do is do what we can to try to prevent the situation from happening in any way. And I don’t think that’s broached enough, is all I’m saying.”

Smith’s ESPN colleague Michelle Beadle did not take kindly to that analysis.

Beadle’s outrage prompted Smith to address his comments with a lengthy explanation on Twitter. In a curious apology, he said he was sorry to any woman who “misconstrued” his meaning and essentially rehashed his original argument.

“I wasn’t BLAMING women for anything,” he wrote. “I was simply saying to take all things into consideration for preventative purposes. Period.”

Watch Smith’s original comments below:

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Catherine Thompson is a senior editor for Talking Points Memo in New York City. She came to the site in 2013 and reported on national affairs. Previously, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett. She can be reached at catherine@talkingpointsmemo.com.
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