ESPN Ombudsman Addresses Stephen A. Smith Comments On Ray Rice
ESPN Ombudsman Robert Lipsyte's latest column discussed Stephen A. Smith's comments on Ravens RB Ray Rice, noting Smith's "problems have always been more mechanical than moral." His mouth "runs faster than his mind, and his footwork is not always nimble enough to navigate the mazes of his ornate sentences." But Smith "clearly has been down this low road before." Lipsyte: "I think he was doing what he is paid to do -- pontification on the fly aimed to attract an audience and provoke it into coming back." Alongside Skip Bayless, Smith "has made 'First Take' an extremely popular show," but that "again left the network to clean up a mess of his making." Meanwhile, it should "not be lost that ESPN actually had several very good responses to the Rice situation." Keith Olbermann on his show Thursday night "had harsh words for the light punishment, and on Monday’s night’s show even harsher words" for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. ESPNW.com also had two "excellent columns" from Jane McManus and Mina Kimes (ESPN.com, 7/30).
QUITE FRANKLY: In Atlanta, Steve Hummer writes Smith has "become such a self-parody," and he was "only doing what he knows." ESPN "sets him up to be outlandish and edgy and then on that inevitable occasion when he steps into it, the network gets all high-minded." Hummer: "Hey, world sports leader, you court the opinions, don’t try to distance yourself now. ... Smith didn’t offend me. I don’t listen to him." But the "ultimate reason for letting Stephen A. off the hook" is that Goodell "must somewhat agree with him." Hummer: "Why else would he have handed out such flaccid discipline for such flagrant domestic abuse?" (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 7/31).