Jemele Hill Sounds Off on Stephen A. Smith

ESPN Debate Ignites Unexpected On-Air Controversy

by Faizan Chaudhary
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Jemele Hill Sounds Off on Stephen A. Smith
© Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images for UCLA

Earlier this week, ESPN's "First Take" became the epicenter of an unexpected clash when commentator Stephen A. Smith was taken aback by a sharp comment from his colleague Monica McNutt during a live broadcast. The discussion, which centered around the recent Chennedy Carter-Caitlin Clark incident in the WNBA, quickly escalated when McNutt challenged Smith's advocacy for women's sports.

Smith, a prominent voice on ESPN, posed the question, "Who talks about the WNBA, who talks about women, who talks about women's sports more than 'First Take'?" This was in response to the ongoing conversation about gender representation in sports media.

McNutt's retort was pointed and direct: "Stephen A., respectfully, with your platform, you could have been doing this three years ago if you wanted to." Caught off guard, Smith was momentarily speechless on air, but he addressed the exchange later with a spirited monologue on "The Stephen A.

Smith Show." He emphasized his role in elevating his colleagues' visibility, saying, "You ever heard of Monica McNutt? You have now. Because she's on 'First Take' a lot."

Hill's Candid Reflections

The incident drew comments from Jemele Hill, a former ESPN journalist and one of Smith's past co-hosts.

Hill took to social media platform X to voice her perspective. "FYI: I was doing 'First Take' before it was even called that (it was originally 'Cold Pizza') and BEFORE Stephen A. Smith was a regular and then a permanent co-host of the show," she noted.

Hill acknowledged Smith's influence in her early career, mentioning her appearances on his previous show, "Quite Frankly," which she described as significant opportunities provided by Smith. However, Hill critiqued the underlying tone of Smith's remarks, particularly his notion of 'making' people.

"But this idea of 'making' people is … odd," she commented, distancing herself from the implication that one's professional worth is solely determined by another's endorsement. Hill's tenure at ESPN, spanning from 2006 to 2018, was marked by her sharp insights and willingness to tackle complex issues within and beyond the sports world, setting a precedent for future discussions about diversity and representation in sports media.

As this conversation unfolds, it highlights the ongoing challenges and necessary dialogues within networks about the role of media personalities in shaping public discourse around sports and social issues. Hill's Candid Reflections

Stephen A. Smith
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