ESPN Anchor Defends Victim-Blaming Ray Rice’s Fiancee, Says Women Have Role To Play In Preventing Abuse

Stephen A. Smith CREDIT: AP
Stephen A. Smith CREDIT: AP

Thursday, the NFL suspended Ray Rice for a paltry two games for assault charges stemming from a February incident in which the Baltimore Ravens running back allegedly punched his then-fiancee and was later seen on surveillance video dragging her, unconscious, out of the elevator of an Atlantic City hotel.

Friday morning, ESPN’s in-house controversy-stirring debate team — otherwise known as the First Take duo of Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless — decided to discuss the widely-criticized suspension. That’s when Smith entered into a long diatribe about how men shouldn’t beat women, during which he also decided to warn women who might become the victims of domestic violence to avoid actions that might provoke the men in their lives.

“But what I’ve tried to employ the female members of my family, some of who you all met and talked to and what have you, is that again, and this what, I’ve done this all my life, let’s make sure we don’t do anything to provoke wrong actions, because if I come, or somebody else come, whether it’s law enforcement officials, your brother or the fellas that you know, if we come after somebody has put their hands on you, it doesn’t negate the fact that they already put their hands on you,” Smith said during the long-winded rant. “So let’s try to make sure that we can do our part in making sure that that doesn’t happen.”

Smith was immediately criticized, especially after Deadspin posted the video, and one of the sharpest rebukes came from one of his colleagues, fellow ESPN studio host Michelle Beadle. As part of a series of tweets, Beadle wrote, “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”.

That prompted Smith to take to Twitter to defend himself, and in doing so he only laid blame at women and others for not understanding the point he was trying to make:

Smith isn’t the only one to botch this situation by laying blame at the feet of the woman who was assaulted. Janay Palmer, Rice’s then-fiancee and now wife, apologized for what happened at a press conference hosted by the Ravens in May — and the team was all too eager to promote that apology and her apparent role in the incident.