Stephen A Smith Photo Credit: ESPN First Take Stephen A. Smith told GQ he doesn’t like being the subject.

Is Stephen A. Smith a talk-show host, entertainer, journalist, or somewhere in between?

That discussion is certainly nothing new, but podcaster Jason Page rekindled that debate Monday with a manifesto-length X post. There, he called out Smith as a faux journalist, criticizing him for spreading “gossip” and being “noise operating beneath the facade of journalism.”

Page, who hosts the podcast SportsWrap with Jason Page, got right to the point in his post. There, he said, “We need to have an intellectually honest conversation about @stephenasmith , “journalism” and the lie that persists over at ESPN. Stephen A. Smith isn’t a journalist. Unfortunately, most people are unwilling to speak this.”

The debate about Smith’s role in sports media has been revisited in recent days following comments he made Friday on ESPN’s First Take. Smith said an “NBA source” told him that Boston Celtics star Jaylen Brown is “just not liked because of his I-am-better-than-you attitude.”

Smith made it clear he personally did not feel that way, but he came under fire for sharing those anonymous comments. Former NBA great and now NBA TV analyst Isiah Thomas called out Smith on X, and Smith responded. Brown himself spoke out Sunday, sharing an X post of a discussion about Smith’s comments, with the message, “State your source.”

Reporters citing anonymous sources is a common practice. But some people have questioned whether Smith, a longtime sportswriter with the Philadelphia Inquirer, still has credibility as a legitimate reporter, or whether he’s merely an entertainer at this point.

Page made his thoughts clear.

“Stephen A. Smith is sports version of a Rachel Maddow or Sean Hannity,” Page wrote. “He’s a talk-show host. While Stephen A. could claim he is a journalist all he wants and whenever it suits him, those journalist days are behind him. They slipped into the rear-view mirror the moment he decided to host a program called First Take.

“There was a time when Stephen A. Smith was 100% a journalist. But that day has come and gone …”

After calling out Smith, the podcaster took aim at ESPN for encouraging the hot-take business model at the expense of journalism.

“So this is what Stephen A. Smith has been relegated to and what ESPN is more than willing to endorse, quietly or otherwise,” Page continued. “It’s become a place where somebody can host an opinions-based show for two hours daily and slander (through unnamed sources) anybody they want and then behind a completely fabricated claim of journalism to protect themselves from the incoming fire …”

Smith has plenty of critics, and many of those felt Page’s post hit the target. Former NFL great Terrell Owens retweeted the post with the message, “What he said.”

Owens, of course, publicly feuded with Smith in 2023 over comments Owens made several years ago. Many others who don’t have a personal axe to grind with Smith agreed with Page.

Smith supporters claimed he did nothing wrong with sharing comments from his “NBA source,” and some thought the whole incident had been blown out of proportion.

There’s no question that Smith is an entertainer, and is paid well to deliver big ratings. At the same time, as a longtime journalist who now has incredible access, he has sources everywhere. Why should it now be forbidden for him to share what one of those sources says?

[Jason Page]

About Arthur Weinstein

Arthur spends his free time traveling around the U.S. to sporting events, state and national parks, and in search of great restaurants off the beaten path.