Skip Bayless is calling The Athletic out for fake news, alleging they botched his recollection of the Stephen A. Smith blueberry muffin story from First Take.
Earlier this month, The Athletic published a deep dive into ESPN’s First Take and its history. While Smith and Bayless admit they disagree on almost everything, they agreed on disliking The Athletic’s recount of First Take. Smith wondered why The Athletic didn’t seek him out for more input considering he’s the current host of First Take, and labeled the article as a “puff piece” for Bayless. Bayless similarly wondered why he spoke with The Athletic for three hours only to find that they released the article four days later without much of the context he provided, specifically the blueberry muffin story.
Written by Rustin Dodd, Jayson Jenks, and Stephen J. Nesbitt, the article in question began by recalling a 2012 disagreement between Smith and Bayless over blueberry muffins. As told by The Athletic, Smith lamented the quality of the blueberry muffins while the show was on site at the NBA Finals and Bayless then lamented Smith lamenting the muffins. Maybe that’s how other people recounted the story to The Athletic, but it’s not how Bayless remembers it.
Bayless took to his podcast and claimed The Athletic botched the story even after he gave them a detailed recount of the blueberry muffin incident. According to Bayless, Smith wasn’t annoyed at the quality of the blueberry muffins, he was annoyed that there were no blueberry muffins. The next day, the show added blueberry muffins to their breakfast spread and Smith snubbed them, claiming he wasn’t hungry.
After First Take went live that morning, Bayless could hear a conversation in his ear with the producer complaining to then-showrunner Jamie Horowitz about the blueberry muffin story. Bayless feared Smith was hearing the same thing and would either walk off set or demand the producer get fired. But the segment ended and Smith never addressed the off-air blueberry muffin conversation. Maybe he never heard it or maybe he chose to ignore it. Either way, Bayless’s recount of the 2012 breakfast did not align with the way The Athletic opened their story about First Take and Smith’s taste for blueberry muffins.
“It astounded me and disappointed me and ultimately troubled me that a publication I respect so much got this so wrong,” Bayless said of The Athletic. “Remember, I came up through the newspaper business…I wrote hundreds and hundreds of newspaper stories. I wrote thousands of newspaper columns. I wrote dozens of magazine articles and I wrote three books, all on the Dallas Cowboys. You can call me crazy, you can say I’m inaccurate here, but I’m here to tell you, I don’t remember one time in my career where somebody came back to me and said, ‘You got that all wrong.’ I just didn’t get it wrong because I did the legwork.”
“A whole lot of people took exception to my opinions in my columns,” Bayless admitted. “Some people took exception to, ‘How dare you write about that in the first place?’ But nobody ever, ever, ever said, ‘You just got that flat out wrong.’ So, does any of this reach the level of libel? No, obviously not.”
The most surprising thing about both recounts of the blueberry muffin story is both failed to mention the fact that Skip Bayless eats a blueberry bagel every morning. Stephen A. Smith starts his mornings with a high-quality blueberry muffin, Bayless, a blueberry bagel. So Smith and Bayless agree on two things, they didn’t like The Athletic article and they need blueberries for breakfast. Bayless won’t be suing The Athletic for libel over their allegedly false reporting about Smith’s blueberry muffin, but just see what happens if you ever come after Skip’s blueberry bagel.