Pete Buttigieg discusses Ohio train derailment with Stephen A. Smith

United States Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg spoke to Stephen A. Smith… yes, ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, about a recent transportation crisis.

On Feb. 3, a cargo train derailed in the town of East Palestine, Ohio. The derailment sparked a massive fire and spewed toxic chemicals into the air. Shortly before making his first visit to East Palestine this week, Buttigieg took some time to speak with Smith about the incident.

“What I’m trying to do is cut through the noise, cut through the misinformation, get to the reality and get to the facts,” Buttigieg said. “Our focus is on making sure that residents in this community are taken care of, and making sure that trains get safer in this country. The last administration dismantled a lot of rail safety regulations.”

When Smith launched his Know Mercy podcast, he purposely sought to get it on a platform away from ESPN because he has career aspirations that exceed what sports talk can offer.

To Smith’s credit, he doesn’t attempt to sound like a political expert on his podcast. He even admitted so while interviewing Buttigieg. Smith asked him to expand on the claim of needing to “cut through the misinformation.” This is good, because as a listener, I didn’t know what Buttigieg meant either. Is Buttigieg attempting to sort through the misinformation so that he, as Secretary of Transportation, can have a better understating of what’s going on? Or is he attempting to correct the misinformation that’s being spewed by the media?

“When you talk about cut through the noise and the rhetoric, obviously from both sides of the aisle,” Smith began to press, “I’m trying to figure out how on earth are you gonna be able to pull something like that off when we just had midterm elections when there’s obviously people vying for the presidency…how are you going to cut through all of that?”

Buttigieg proceeded to give a rather rudimentary answer. As one might expect from a trained politician. He claimed transportation is a bipartisan issue that can sometimes get Democrats and Republicans to work together. But at least Smith tried.

I’m not sure which seems more surprising: that Stephen A. Smith reached out to Pete Buttigieg for an interview? Or that someone in the United States secretary of transportation office said, ‘Smith is the guy Buttigieg has to talk to about this crisis?’ Smith talking politics is going to take some getting used to, and despite mounting Fox News appearances, we’re not quite there yet.

[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