Dan Le Batard On Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless: “I Hate What You Two Have Done To Sports Television”
Commentator Dan Le Batard recently took Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless to task for the culture of sports talk media that they've fostered
It seems as if every day there’s a new battle brewing or some controversy stirring among sports analysts. In modern times, the showdowns at the debate panel are often as dramatic as the ones that take place on the field.
Two of the main disturbers are talking heads Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith, who have made a cottage industry out of being disagreeably disagreeable. Their exchanges with one another and others often lead to controversy and a lot of social media chatter.
One prominent colleague who is no fan of that trend or the two men behind it is television commentator Dan Le Batard, who says that it’s brought the level of sports journalism significantly downward. The former ESPN broadcaster made that clear recently when he had the boisterous Stephen A. as a guest on his show, South Beach Sessions.
“I hate what you two (Smith and Bayless) have done to sports television,” Le Batard stated bluntly.
It came in the middle of a diatribe by Smith, discussing his former ESPN running mate, when Dan Le Batard interjected. Smith was taken aback, then retorted quickly.
“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!”
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Dan Le Batard reinforced his point by saying that the entire format of the duo’s show, First Take, became less about commentary and more about combat. The environment, he stated, helped to foster a generation of know-it-all desk jockeys.
Smith wasn’t hearing any of it and stood his ground.
“How are we responsible for that?” Smith asked. “…I was a journalist for decades! We come on television and those ethics are applicable…When did it occur in my career that I ignored the journalistic tenets that came with the job?”
Smith then said that he and Bayless weren’t the originators of the format, citing previous ‘shock jock’ sports talkers like Jim Rome and Chris ‘Mad Dog’ Russo. Both morphed from syndicated radio stars to television personalities based on their ability to be outspoken, and often, outlandish.
“We didn’t create it. We saw what was there and we maximized it to the best of our ability. Just like you do,” Smith told Le Batard. “You have been holding people accountable for decades. And because you don’t have someone to volley back and forth with you, you’re innocent? You’re not. You’re a part of it too.”
What do you make of Le Batard’s accusations and Smith’s rebuttal?
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