Days after publicly declaring that women shouldn't "do anything to provoke wrong actions" ("wrong actions" = when their boyfriends/husbands punch them in the face) following a recent incident that involved Ravens running back Ray Rice knocking his then-fiancée unconscious and dragging her out of an elevator, ESPN's Stephen A. Smith (who initially doubled down on the statement on Twitter) opened his show First Take this morning with an apology that definitely came from the heart and was definitely not demanded by producers.
"My words came across it is somehow a woman's fault," Smith remarked. "This is not my intent. It was not what I was trying to say. Yet the failure to clearly articulate something different lies squarely on my shoulders. To say what I said was foolish is an understatement. To say I was wrong is obvious. To apologize, to say I'm sorry doesn't do the proper justice. But I do sincerely apologize."
The host also referred to his initial remarks as the "most egregious error of my career."
It's hard to call out an apology that's so direct. Smith comes off as willing to take full responsibility for his stupid comments, however, it's worth noting that last Friday was hardly the first time that he has said something about a woman's responsibility to avoid being beaten by her partner.
As Tom Ley at Deadspin puts it:
The crux of Smith's apology is that he simply failed to properly communicate his stance on domestic violence during last Friday's show. Smith claims that he never meant to insinuate that women can provoke their own beatings at the hands of men, and that he has "religiously spoken out against domestic violence" throughout his life. "I've done so repeatedly over 20 years in this business, as well as over these very airwaves, right here on First Take," he assured us. That's a curious claim for Smith to make, seeing as how his previous discussions of domestic violence onFirst Take were not at all out of step with his comments from Friday.
Meanwhile, NFL execs continue to bumblingly stand by their decision to suspend Rice for a mere two games. Erin Gloria Ryan is looking more and more right.