Stephen A. Smith Photo credit: The Stephen A. Smith Show

Dan Le Batard has taken a keen interest in talking about the sports media industry this summer, which has included discussing Stephen A. Smith, First Take, and everything in between. And Smith has taken a keen interest in responding to “my man” Le Batard and The Dan Le Batard Show.

Le Batard sparked a sort of feud with Smith earlier this year when he bluntly told the First Take host, “I hate what you [and Skip Bayless] have done to sports television.” Smith was caught off guard by the criticism but mustered enough of a retort to ask, “What about you?”

The two have since traded jabs, with Le Batard recently telling his former ESPN colleague that his problem was not actually with him but rather something that Jemele Hill said on the Meadowlark Media airwaves.

Before addressing the elephant in the room, a sleeveless Smith said on last Friday’s episode of The Stephen A. Smith Show that he and Le Batard had spoken off the air. The two remain friendly despite their differences, and Smith said that they’ve been friends for over 20 years now, and any disagreement they have won’t change that.

“I went at him before I went on vacation because I didn’t appreciate some of the bullsh*t he was saying on his show—and I still don’t,” Smith began. “But just because I don’t like what you said doesn’t mean you’re not my friend. We can disagree and still be friends. “

Smith set the scene by saying that he can disagree with a longtime friend without disrespecting him. And that’s what he did.

“As I said last week, I did not appreciate when he was saying that me and Skip Bayless, oh he hates what we did to sports television,” Smith said. “Acting like he was teaching at Miami U and he wasn’t a part of this industry. Got your own damn show. Gotcha Daddy sitting in the middle between you and Bomani Jones half the time or somebody else…

“Dan Le Batard was talking, and I didn’t like some of the sh*t he was saying. I particularly didn’t like him constantly bringing up ESPN and bitching all the time about ESPN. Because I’m just one of those dudes that if a place is good enough for you to collect a check from for years, why are you maligning it every chance you get the second you went? I just think that’s bush league.”

There’s another element to this.

Stugotz, who recently confused New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers for country superstar Jake Owen, offered his thoughts on Le Batard’s ongoing drama with not only Smith but a fellow ESPNer in Adrain Wojnarowski.

“I’ve been thinking about this during the break, and we discussed this for a while now on the show. But journalism as we know it, as you know it–what you wanted when you were a little kid, okay? It is changed. It has. It’s changed, okay? You’re not wrong, Stephen A. Smith is not wrong. You have to adapt sometimes, okay? Because the game has changed, your priorities have shifted.

“No one cares how someone goes and gets the news that they get as long as the news is accurate. As long as it’s coming from a credible place. If it’s Woj, if it’s Adam Schefter, if it’s you, if it’s Dianna Russini, if it’s Shams. Nobody cares. You might care, Greg Cote might care, Stephen A. Smith might care. But you know what? Y’all sold out. Every single one of you, okay?

“Stephen A. Smith jumped inside the circus tent. I don’t blame him. Why’d he do it? Because he had to do it. Because the game has changed. You jumped inside the circus tent. You did. You did so with me. Think about that. With me and with Greg Cote every Tuesday, okay? And so you have ditched journalism a long, long time ago because why? Survival of the fittest, Dan. You have to change with the times. You have to roll with the changing environment, roll with the changing industry, and that’s what you decided to do. That’s what Stephen A. decided to do. For Woj, for guys like him, the game has changed slightly. Where he went out and he seeked reports and he wanted to be the reporter. And you know what? And now if he has morphed into a mouthpiece for the Blazers? I’m okay with it! I am good with it. I don’t care.

“Everyone is selling out to make a buck! Just give it up, y’all want to be journalists! You’re not journalists anymore! None of you! Not a one of you! Sorry!

Smith said that he thought Stugotz’s recent comments were worthy of a response. And he played an audio clip on The Stephen A. Smith show of Stugotz addressing the “brouhaha” between Smith and Le Batard and the business of sports broadcasting and the shows that exist on the air today.

“Stugotz, right there, makes very, very, very valid points,” said Smith. “The industry did change, and we had to adapt…So when Stugotz alludes to the changing of the industry as it pertains to people like myself and Dan Le Batard, he’s not wrong. Because I saw that you had to modify your game a little bit because all of a sudden, the written word didn’t matter as much. All of a sudden, the news itself didn’t matter two minutes after people got it…and once everyone had it, they didn’t care about the news anymore. But they cared about your perspective on the news, and I saw that as my avenue to transition. And I’m not apologizing for it…

“I’m at a point in my career where I don’t even want to discuss anything that’s less than seven figures. That would never have been the case had I stayed in newspapers, for myself or Dan Le Batard. Which is why I thank Stugotz for pointing out Dan Le Batard’s, dare I say, ‘hypocrisy’ on this matter. Because that’s what it is, Dan. Sorry buddy, but it is.”

Smith “cleared the air” by getting in the last word. He didn’t say that Le Batard was wrong, but rather, he referred to him as a “hypocrite.” Will have to see if Le Batard chooses to respond to Smith’s pointed criticism, as he has done previously. In the meantime, this ongoing feud, or whatever you want to call it, seems like it’s going to eventually end with the two doing a podcast together.

[The Stephen A. Smith Show]

About Sam Neumann

Since the beginning of 2023, Sam has been a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. A 2021 graduate of Temple University, Sam is a Charlotte native, who currently calls Greenville, South Carolina his home. He also has a love/hate relationship with the New York Mets and Jets.