Stephen A. Smith didn’t exactly have Jemele Hill’s back when it comes to criticizing the President.
In an interview with Sporting News, the “First Take” host said he believes President Donald Trump is wasting his time commenting about protests in the NFL and ripping ESPN. However, he said fellow reporters shouldn’t be going after him.
“Do I believe the President has been a bit juvenile in his behavior? Yes he has. Having said that, it’s one thing to attack what he does, it’s an entirely different matter to attack him. When you attack him, then we are stepping out of our lane. We are a sports network. We have an obligation to wake up every day with the mindset that we not only speak for ourselves but we speak on behalf of the brand,” Smith said.
“It is not a brand that we own. It is a brand that employs us. It has entrusted us to represent it just as much as we care about representing ourselves. So with that in mind, we have to be cognizant of all those things.”
Stephen A. Smith believes ESPN employees should stick to sports and not go after President Donald Trump.
(John Salangsang/John Salangsang/Invision/AP)
Smith said they have to be “cognizant” to leave Trump’s comments where they are when he starts commenting on things going on in the sports world, and stick to commenting on sports.
“We’re a sports network. You become successful. You sustain a level of success by giving people what they expect. By, figuratively speaking, ‘playing the hits.’ Not deviating too far away from what people turn on the channel and tune in for you to hear,” Smith said. “As long as we remember those kinds of things, then it’s going to lend itself to us being successful as opposed to us losing our bearings because we get caught up in our emotions, and we do things that ultimately sacrifice the brand and ourselves just to react to something for 15 seconds or 15 minutes. We have to be smarter than that — even if the President doesn’t appear that way sometimes.”
Smith appeared to be echoing ESPN’s new social media policy that states employees should do nothing to “embroil the company in unwanted controversy.”
President Donald Trump has openly voiced his opinion on players kneeling in the NFL and ESPN.
When it comes to political issues, ESPN wants employees to keep the audience’s interests in mind, be about an issue that impacts sports, and should refrain from “overt partisanship or endorsement of particular candidates, politicians or political parties.”
The policy came out after Hill was suspended by the network for two weeks after suggesting fans boycott advertisers that support Jerry Jones and the Cowboys. ESPN said it was Hill’s second violation after she previously called Trump a “white supremacist” on Twitter.