Stephen A. Smith responds to Dan Le Batard

Dan Le Batard caused chaos in sports media last week by bluntly telling Stephen A. Smith he “hates” what the First Take host and Skip Bayless have done to sports television.

After appearing stunned by the criticism, Smith immediately fired back, asking Le Batard, “what about you?”

“You can say that all you want to, I would say who the hell are you!” Smith responded. “To sit up there and say, me and him. What about you? Where the hell were you? Living under a rock? Teaching at Miami U? You were a part of it too! You ain’t innocent!”

And after reading Awful Announcing’s coverage of their argument, Smith put his vacation on hold Monday morning to expanded on his response to Le Batard. During an episode of his Know Mercy podcast, he called Le Batard out for profiting off the very industry he accused Smith and Bayless of destroying. Throughout the podcast, Smith did, however, maintain that he has a strong relationship with Le Batard, despite last week’s argument.

“I did think that he was wrong when he came at me last week and he said, ‘I hate what you two have done to sports television, talking about Skip Bayless and myself,” Smith said. “It’s amazing to me how people will speak as if I’ve had a negative impact on an industry they profit off of! Dan Le Batard wrote for the Miami Herald for 26 years. 1990-2016. Ask Dan Le Batard how much money he made writing for the Miami Herald compared to how much money he made on ESPN. How much money he made doing Highly Questionable, how much money he made doing the Dan Le Batard Show, how much money he is making doing South Beach Sessions!”

“It’s amazing to me how ‘Oh my lord, the impact Stephen A. had on this industry – oh my god, oh my god, oh my god.’ Really? Really? And what impact would that be? People trying to be loud? People trying to be bombastic? That’s all y’all got? That’s it? We’re just going to ignore everything that happened prior to that?”

Smith proceeded to list his long background as a journalist, citing how much he needed to grind throughout his entire career. “We’re gonna just ignore all of that?” he asked.

“I don’t mention my resume to brag about it,” Smith added. “I mention my resume to point to you, that there is a Black man in front of your face that you’re staring at right now who has earned what I have.”

Smith’s resume shouldn’t be ignored. But Le Batard wasn’t arguing the First Take host’s credentials and he certainly wasn’t arguing his unrivaled work ethic. Le Batard’s issue with Smith and Bayless is less about their ability and more about the imitators their successes have spawned.

“Dan Le Batard was wrong when he said, ‘Skip Bayless and I, the journalistic tenets are ignored because the made-for-TV debate is proliferated in the mind’s eye, and it’s been at the expense of journalism.’ That is not our problem,” Smith argued. “Not for two people who have employed journalistic tenets our entire career.”

Smith and Le Batard both made fair points, but they weren’t always arguing the same thing. Le Batard argued against the people trying to be Smith, while Smith was vehemently trying to defend his own career. As Smith noted, Le Batard has definitely profited off the current sports TV landscape that he’s critical of. Le Batard’s not alone, Smith and Bayless furthered a rise in debate shows, a rise in personalities profiting off sports television, and a rise in platforms aggregating that content.

But that content and the drive for hosts to match the attention Smith garners has also led to a rise in false or fraudulent narratives being pushed on television. Stephen A. Smith can tout his goal of maintaining journalistic integrity on-air, but he can’t speak for the hosts and analysts who are attempting to emulate him. Not many sports talking heads are willing to concede a debate, Smith included. And if cornered, they’ve eluded journalistic principles.

Just as Stephen A. Smith claimed Michael Jordan was bad for the NBA because it created a culture where everyone wanted to ‘be like Mike,’ Dan Le Batard can claim Stephen A. Smith was bad for sports television because it created an industry of shameless imitators.

[Know Mercy]

About Brandon Contes

Brandon Contes is a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. He previously helped carve the sports vertical for Mediaite and spent more than three years with Barrett Sports Media. Send tips/comments/complaints to