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Stephen A Smith weighs in after Trump, Biden debate: ‘Have your fears now been confirmed?’

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Outspoken media personality Stephen A. Smith chimed in on Thursday night’s presidential debate.

The longtime ESPN commentator has openly discussed politics in recent years, despite the network’s push to “stick to sports” and steer away from political commentary, notably since Jimmy Pitaro took over as the company’s president in 2018.

Smith reaffirmed his willingness to dive into the political realm when he appeared on NewsNation on Thursday night during the network’s presidential debate coverage. 

Shortly after the debate ended, Smith took to social media to share some more thoughts on what transpired in Atlanta. He also called out Vice President Harris and former first lady Michelle Obama when he offered his take on the debate.

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“So do y’all finally want to stop arguing with me about Biden now???” Smith shared in a post on X. “Have your fears now been confirmed? @MichelleObama. @VP. Somebody. Please help! Biden’s team WANTED this? His staff, His loved ones…. How could you put him out there like that! How could you!”

In addition to his role with ESPN, Smith hosts “The Stephen A. Smith Show.” He has previously stated that the podcast is separate from his duties at the network, and that the platform grants him the freedom to discuss politics or other things in the news that he is interested in. 

Pitaro took over as ESPN president in 2018. Under his leadership, the network has consciously veered away from programming and commentary that delves into politics or race relations. 

Former President Trump and President Biden debate

“I’ve had this discussion internally with hundreds of our employees that sports is about uniting and ESPN needs to unite people around sports,” Pitaro told The Washington Post in 2019. “That’s our role, or one of our roles.”

He added that he also tries to listen to what sports fans are saying about the programming they want to see.

“Of course I am, and I have my own views. But I also recognize that when I or one of our on-air personalities speak publicly, that that is received as the opinions of ESPN, and that can’t be. We look at what our fans are telling us,” said Pitaro.

“What we’ve said from Day 1 is that we’re the place of record, we are covering the intersection of sports and politics. That hasn’t changed. Why is it impossible to make the distinction between sports news and non-sports news?”

Stephen A. Smith speaks

However, in July 2019, then-ESPN radio host Dan Le Batard called out the network for placing restrictions on political commentary. 

“We here at ESPN don’t have the stomach for the fight,” Le Batard said on his radio show at the time. “We don’t talk about what is happening unless there is some sort of weak, cowardly sports angle that we can run it through.” Le Batard’s comments came on the heels of “send her back” chants directed at Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., that broke out during a political rally. 

Smith has become one of ESPN’s biggest stars, and he is reportedly in the midst of contract negotiations with the network. According to Puck, Smith’s contract expires in 2025, but he has been offered a new deal that could pay him $18 million on an annual basis.

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