ESPN’s National Basketball Association analyst and sometime-political commentator Stephen A. Smith has earned a reputation for pulling no punches.
Whether conservative or liberal, anyone who watches or listens to Smith (he also has a radio show) will sooner or later find himself or herself nodding in agreement with him — or cursing him through the screen. Such is the nature of Smith’s “I’m-going-to-say-it-and-if-you-don’t-like-it, tough” style.
This morning on ESPN’s “First Take,” Smith broke off a piece of truth that’s likely to have plenty of people cursing him.
Yesterday, Vice President Mike Pence stole the NFL show in Indianapolis when he got up and walked out of Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the Colts, as a reaction to San Francisco 49’ers players kneeling during the playing of our national anthem.
Pence was in attendance at his home state team’s game yesterday (he’s the former governor of Indiana) for future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning’s jersey retirement. When the players decided to take a knee, the Veep headed for the door. In response to the VP’s action, 49’ers player Eric Reid said afterward, “This is what systemic oppression looks like.”
Reid, who is 25 years old, is earning $5,676,000 this year.
The events led Smith to comment this morning that Trump’s winning the war of public opinion. His comments were picked up by the Daily Caller:
“Donald Trump is now winning the national anthem debate without question, according to ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith.
Vice President Mike Pence attended the Indianapolis Colts and San Francisco 49ers game on Sunday, but promptly left after several players kneeled for the national anthem. Donald Trump later tweeted, claiming that he told Pence to leave if any players disrespected the flag and our country.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 8, 2017
Smith discussed Pence’s move on ESPN’s “First Take” Monday morning, where he said Trump has successfully hijacked the issue and is winning the national anthem argument.
“The president has successfully gone about the business of hijacking the issue,” Smith began, noting that he’s turned a protest against police brutality into a debate about patriotism.
The “First Take” host then claimed that he believes Trump is doing this to get back at the NFL community that didn’t welcome him back when he tried to become an owner of a team.
“In the end, what it really really comes down to is the president has successfully hijacked this issue. He’s turned it into an issue about patriotism and beyond, he’s catering to his base in the process and the biggest thing he’s doing is he’s pulling it all off, hiding behind these issues when, in my opinion, his real agenda is going after an NFL community that didn’t let him in that ‘good ole boys club,’” Smith said.
“He is the one that’s winning because he’s turned this into something that the players didn’t intend to. So they’re going to have to find a different mechanism to have their voices heard, because Trump has won this round.”
Though Smith may not be right about many of the things he said, it would be difficult to argue that Smith isn’t right about Trump’s victory. With attendance at live venues down, television ratings down, customers cancelling satellite TV NFL packages and social media filled with self-made videos of fans burning their team jerseys and/or season tickets, it certainly does seem as if Trump has won this round.
Will he ultimately win the entire fight? Only time will tell.
[NOTE: This article was written by Derrick Wilburn, Founder and Chairman of the Rocky Mountain Black Conservatives, and a speaker, author, columnist and analyst for multiple print and broadcast media outlets. Follow him on Facebook and at RMBlackConservatives.com.]