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

When a sports host and a comedian each get their own podcast, they discuss the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Earlier this week, Joe Rogan was widely criticized for claiming Jan. 6 may have been a false flag operation designed to take down former President Donald Trump. Rogan also pushed the conspiracy that Jan. 6 protester Ray Epps, who filed a defamation lawsuit against Fox News, may have been a federal agent.

And when one podcast titan talks about Jan. 6 conspiracies, it opens the door for another to follow. On the latest episode of The Stephen A. Smith Show, the longtime ESPN host did his best to straddle party lines by defending Rogan, but not agreeing with him.

“Ladies and gentlemen, I have no clue what Joe Rogan is talking about,” Smith bluntly stated. “And by that I mean, I have no idea whether he’s right or whether he’s wrong. I am not siding with him, I’m not saying he’s all right, but I’m not summarily dismissing every and any syllable he echoes as conspiracy theories.”

Smith went on to cite claims that Malcom X and Martin Luther King Jr. both pushed conspiracy theories about the federal government before they were assassinated.

“I don’t know,” Smith reiterated. “What I get upset is when people act like they do know. And that makes Joe Rogan ignorant. It makes Joe Rogan wrong. It makes Joe Rogan just an absolute fool. No. It makes him very, very suspicious because he knows what level of insidious behavior our government has been capable of in the past.”

Smith defended Rogan’s ability to claim Jan. 6 was a false flag, although he didn’t necessarily want to support blaming the government, FBI or CIA for inciting the Capitol attack. But he didn’t want to fault Trump either.

“I’m not one of those people who believes that Donald Trump caused the insurrection,” Smith said. “Those are grown ass men and women that were there. I don’t give a damn who you are. You can’t convince me to bulldoze through barricades, run over law enforcement officials, damn near crush a cop through the swinging doors, break windows, kicking doors of our U.S. Capitol. You can’t convince me to do that.”

It seems hypocritical to definitively argue Trump couldn’t have caused the insurrection by encouraging grown men and women to charge the U.S. Capitol, while simultaneously alleging it’s possible that intelligence agencies provoked people to attack the building.

“I understand that people want to get at Joe Rogan, and again, I’m not agreeing with him,” Smith said. “I’m agreeing with his right to express that opinion. So long as he classifies it as an opinion.”

But Rogan didn’t classify it as an opinion, which anyone who watched or listened to the podcast segment would have learned very quickly. In the first 10 seconds of Rogan’s Jan. 6 discussion with none other than comedian Jim Gaffigan, he said, “The intelligence agencies were involved in provoking people to go into the Capitol building. That’s a fact.”

Earlier this year, Smith blasted Tucker Carlson for pushing Jan. 6 conspiracy theories, but here he is a few months later defending Rogan’s right to do the same thing.

Smith was trying to play this story down the middle. He admitted not knowing about Epps. And it’s quite possible Smith didn’t watch the Jan. 6 hearings, which is why he aptly avoided giving a definitive opinion on who or what provoked the Capitol attack. But in assessing Rogan’s comments, Smith should have at least been aware that the polarizing podcast host said, “That’s a fact.”

[The Stephen A. Smith Show]

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