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Volume 26 No. 25
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Stephen A. Smith Critical Of ESPN Story On Lakers' Internal Issues

Some felt Smith and Wilbon did not push back on Johnson's claims about the story
Photo: MAGIC JOHNSON

Stephen A. Smith spent most of yesterday "lighting into" the ESPN report from Baxter Holmes on the Lakers' issues, "not based on the story's merits, but because he didn't like it," according to Andrew Bucholtz of AWFUL ANNOUNCING. The story as a whole has "a lot of interesting information," but viewers "wouldn’t know that from ESPN’s TV coverage, much of which wound up being an extended defense of [Magic] Johnson and an extended tear-down of their own reporting." Smith in particular was "just criticizing the existence of this story." It got "particularly rough when Johnson appeared on the network himself alongside Smith and Michael Wilbon." Both Wilbon and Smith "just let Johnson bash the story without actually providing evidence it was wrong" (AWFULANNOUNCING.com, 5/28). In N.Y., Dennis Young writes Smith is "known as a team player at ESPN, and he tried to toe the company line in his various appearances" yesterday. He said Holmes "did a great job reporting" the story on the Lakers. But it is "obvious how Smith really feels, and that he values his relationship with Magic enough to go after a piece of reporting his own company reported" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 5/29).

TWITTER REAX: Social media reacted yesterday to Smith's treatment of Johnson while on the air. SI's Chris Mannix tweeted, "The warm embrace Magic Johnson received on ESPN yesterday was embarrassing. No pushback. Ignoring obvious followups. @Baxter wrote an insightful, thorough story on the inner workings on the Lakers and ESPN let Magic come on the air and dump all over it." N.Y. Times' Sopan Deb: "Johnson being allowed by two friendly ESPN hosts to address ESPN's own negative reporting with zero pushback." The Boston Globe's Chad Finn called the treatment "pathetic."