ESPN suspends Stephen A Smith for domestic abuse remarks

ESPN on-air analyst Stephen A Smith Image copyright Getty Images

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Cable sports network ESPN has suspended Stephen A Smith for saying on-air that female victims of abuse should be aware of actions they take to provoke their assailants.

Mr Smith's remarks on the show First Take were prompted by a discussion of the National Football League's decision last week to suspend Baltimore Ravens player Ray Rice for two games after he was arrested in February for assaulting his wife.

The entire episode has been characterised by a series of outrages, falling like dominoes. First came anger directed toward Rice. Then the NFL was criticised for the relative brevity of the suspension. Smith was next in line following his charged comments.

Now ESPN, and the way it handles its sports commentary and coverage, is taking centre stage.

The network wants to be controversial and to offer attention-grabbing commentary, but then it acts surprised when the people they hire say outrageous things, writes Variety's Brian Lowry.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The NFL suspends Ray Rice two games following his February arrest for aggravated assault

He continues:

"The channel can't really have it both ways. If the goal is to be provocative - and those participating in these free-for-alls are, inevitably, encouraged to be colourful and bicker - it only stands to reason people are occasionally going to say questionable or offensive things, especially when tackling hot-button political issues."

Lowry goes on to detail the long list of ESPN employees who have said things that have landed them in hot water - about gay rights, race relations and sexual harassment, to name a few.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution's Steve Hummer agrees that the sports network shouldn't be let off the hook so easily.

"Hey, world sports leader, you court the opinions, don't try to distance yourself now," he writes. "Did Dr Frankenstein ever suspend his monster?"

It's all a product of ESPN trying to create provocative debate no matter the price, writes NBC Sports's Mike Florio.

"When a network demands that a pair of analysts come up with diametrically opposed and yet equally hot takes on multiple topics per day, it's somewhat amazing that the format hasn't claimed more careers," he says.

In the end Smith will be back in a week. Rice will be off the field for two weeks. ESPN will continue to haul in viewers by the millions all the while.

Hummer takes note:

"Apparently, given the length of the two suspensions, it is only half as egregious to do what your employer asks - in Smith's case, be a steaming, noxious word geyser - as for a hulking football player to beat a woman into unconsciousness."


Controlling an epidemic - The Ebola outbreak in Liberia is a result of citizens not following the instructions of healthcare professionals, according to Heritage's John S Morlu.

One of the major factors exacerbating Ebola in Liberia is the continuation of public gatherings in the country, he says.

"The Government should see reason to postpone the upcoming senatorial mid-term elections if there is still evidence of continuing Ebola presence in Liberia by 12 August, 2014," he writes.

The government of Liberia has a responsibility to "provide clear and unambiguous directives" to its people to avoid confusion, rumour and doubt from undermining public safety.

"Perhaps, we can all use this opportunity to unite behind a common agenda: fighting Ebola," he concludes.


Heading down Argentina's default path - If Russia is hit hard by sanctions from the West, it is at risk of ending up teetering on the verge of an Argentina-style default, according to Bloomberg's Mohamed A El-Erian.

Like the Argentine difficulties stemming from a US court decision, he writes, the Russian crisis is the type of "one-off exogenous shock" that global markets have a difficult time predicting.

"Absent a course correction, the conflict is proceeding on a path that limits the flexibility of the parties, along with the control they have on outcomes," writes El-Erian.


A national effort to address aboriginal rights - Gaza conflict excuses continued anti-Semitism - Recent anti-Semitism in Italy is an ongoing issue of domestic origins, according to the Daily Beast's Barbie Latza Nadeau. It has little to do with what's going between Israel and Palestine.

While current anti-Semitism in France has involved young, pro-Palestine Muslims, similar events in Italy have predominantly involved European-Italians, says Nadeau.

"Rome has the oldest Jewish community in all of Europe and one of the oldest continuous settlements in the world, but the country still struggles with its anti-Semitic past," writes Nadeau.

Even though Rome's mayor and police force have been trying to stop anti-Semitism in the country, other politicians are fanning the flames, adds Nadeau.


A national effort to address aboriginal rights - Canada is the first in the world to attempt a revision of its Royal Proclamation regarding the rights of First Nations peoples in the country, according to the Globe and Mail's Jeffrey Simpson.

"The effort involves taking the principles and statements of the Royal Proclamation of 1763 about fair treatment of natives and respect for their rights and updating and giving practical effect to those ideals for the 21st century," Simpson writes.

Many First Nations leaders want self-government for their people, Simpson says, but the federal government isn't sure how to go forward with this because of the diversity within Canada's aboriginal population.

"The model hasn't been tried, or worked, anywhere else," says Simpson. "As such, this is Canada's greatest social experiment."

BBC Monitoring's quotes of the day

Middle East commentators offer their views on the ongoing violence in the Gaza Strip.

"The hate rhetoric in Egyptian and social media against the Palestinian people, triggered by hatred of Hamas, must stop immediately... We should support the Palestinians in their ordeal." - Jamal Zaydah in Egypt's Al-Ahram.

"The problem for Israel is that it cannot achieve what it wants except by reoccupying Gaza, which is a nightmare that the Israelis do not want. Besides, there is nothing that makes reoccupation a viable solution to the Israeli dilemma." - Abd-al-Munim in Saudi-owned Al-Sharq al-Awsat.

"Even if we do not manage to destroy all the tunnels, and the rockets continue to be buried underground waiting to be launched, victory is already ours, perhaps not in Gaza, but certainly in the West Bank, in the Greater Land of Israel... The greater the threat Gaza constitutes, so will Israel's control of the West Bank be secured." - Zvi Barel in Israel's Haaretz. ‎

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