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ESPN suspends Smith for comments on abuse

Published July 30. 2014 4:00AM

ESPN has suspended outspoken sportscaster Stephen A. Smith for a week because of his comments about domestic abuse suggesting women should make sure that they don't do anything to provoke an attack.

Smith's commentary occurred during a discussion on ESPN2's "First Take" last Friday about the NFL's two-game suspension of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice following charges he assaulted his now-wife. The remarks attracted widespread attention, including a stinging rebuke online from a fellow ESPN personality.

Smith issued an on-air apology Monday, saying it was the most egregious mistake of his career.

A day later, ESPN took action. The network's chief executive, John Skipper, told ESPN's staff in a memo it was done after a "thoughtful discussion" about appropriate actions with men and women in his company.

Smith will not appear on "First Take" or ESPN radio until Aug. 6, the network said.

During the Rice discussion, Smith alluded to women in abuse cases when he said, "Let's make sure we don't do anything to provoke wrong action ... we got to also make sure that you can do your part to do whatever you can do to make, to try to make sure it doesn't happen again."

Shortly after Smith's remarks, colleague Michelle Beadle responded on Twitter that "I was just forced to watch this morning's First Take. A) I'll never feel clean again B) I'm not aware that I can provoke my own beating."

ESPN frowns upon its personalities attacking each other on social media or other forums. But in this case, the network said it has decided not to discipline Beadle.

- Associated Press

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