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Dan Le Batard: Stephen A. Smith’s Problem is With Jemele Hill Not Me

Dan Le Batard and Stephen A. Smith swear they like and respect each other. Ever since Le Batard accused Smith and Skip Bayless of making sports television worse, there has been some public contention.

Last week, Smith wondered why Le Batard couldn’t stop talking about ESPN, a network he says he was happy to be done with. This week, Le Batard fired back.

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On Monday’s edition of The Dan Le Batard Show, the host praised Smith’s work ethic and ascent to television stardom. He reiterated that he does not like the influence First Take has had on sports television.

He played a clip from Smith saying that Dan Le Batard and his father participated in what he claims to hate so much every day on Highly Questionable. Le Batard responded by saying that it was evidence that Smith never actually watched Highly Questionable

“You think I was debating my father on that show?” He asked. “Stephen A. Smith doesn’t have time. He’s too busy talking all over the rest of the network to watch any of what’s happening on shows elsewhere on the network.”

He added that Smith’s assertion that Le Batard never condemned or criticized ESPN while he was on the network payroll was also untrue.

“I don’t think that’s a fair criticism. I got in trouble all the time because I was always saying at ESPN microphones while taking ESPN’s money that ESPN should be covered the way it covers others and it’s a real blind spot at the network that it doesn’t.”

Le Batard said his biggest problem was that Smith kept using his name while complaining about something Jemele Hill said about ESPN when she was a guest on the show.

“I’m a much easier target for him to put a name on than going after the black female that he also respects, that he doesn’t want to start that back and forth when it’s easier to just frame it under me. When I didn’t say the thing he objected to.”

The show played a clip of Hill’s appearance in which she accused ESPN of never trying to correct the inaccurate narratives about SC6 being a political show more than a sports show. She said it became clear to her that “They wanted black faces. They didn’t want necessarily black voices.”

“When you say the phrase black faces, not black voices and Stephen A. Smith is still one of the black faces at ESPN, and you’re suggesting that he’s establishment, that you’re braver than he is because he’s a part of the system that wrongs people? I understand him getting bothered by that insult,” Le Batard admitted. “Your problem’s not with me, Stephen A. Smith. You should take that up with her publicly. 

“If the objection is I don’t like being told. That I am somebody who’s kept by the company, even as you write in your book, that you wake up every day thinking of ways to make money for the company and you’re the one they throw out there when Dana White gets in trouble and they’ve got all sorts of conflict of interest and they need somebody to give a voice to something and you talk about how you’re friends with Dana White. Your objection is not actually with me. And I would love to discuss this with him in a form that wasn’t ‘let’s see who can win an argument, let’s debate.’ Let’s just talk like human beings.”


  1. Check LeBatard Show’s most watched YouTube clips. 7 of the top 8 most viewed are about ESPN-specific topics. The whole Meadowlark outfit still has super low viewership totals and Dan’s crew is just “playing the hits”, just like any other sports media outlet desperate to justify their salaries/existence.

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