Another day, another bad take from Stephen A. Smith. But, this isn’t about how he hilariously thought the Miami Heat would lose to the New York Knicks in the playoffs, wrongly implied that the late Dwayne Haskins was “more of a runner than a thrower,” or falsely assumed that Alabama State University head football coach Eddie Robinson Jr. was the son of the late-great Grambling coach Eddie Robinson — after berating him on live television — when he’s not. It’s about his transformation into being a mouthpiece — or puppet — for the Republican Party.
“But there are responsibilities that are far, far, far, more extensive than, let’s say, the typical 9-to-5 that somebody in their 80s may not need to be doing….I think the presidency is one of them,” Smith said on a recent episode of his podcast.
Here’s the kicker. Before that quote, Smith declares that he’s not trying to engage in any ageism because he doesn’t believe in it just before he willfully decides to engage in ageism.
Over the last two years, Smith has dabbled more and more into politics — which is his right. But the thing about politics is, your beliefs reveal so much about who you really are. And so far, the revelation feels like Smith wants nothing more than to be a rich white man — and all the privileges that come with it.
“I’m a proud capitalist and won’t apologize to anybody,” he once told his longtime friend Sean Hannity over on FOX News.
During the appearance that Smith made on Hannity’s show in February, Hannity implied that President Biden has made more mistakes than a twice-impeached Donald Trump, who’s still under investigation, did while in the White House — think about that for a second — and was trying to coax Smith into agreeing with him. It was an expected move, given that radio and television hosts on that network rarely invite guests on their shows with opposing viewpoints that have something factual and intelligent to say.
“Do you think the world respects and fears Joe Biden the way that they did Donald Trump?” asked Hannity.
“No. I’ll be honest, that’s my feeling,” replied Smith.
If you watch the entirety of the clip, you’ll notice how glaring Smith’s code-switching skills are and the change in his normal temperament as he sat in front of a live audience that looked like it didn’t include a single non-white person.
To add balance, Smith doesn’t pick and choose who he’s critical of based on their political party. It’s why he can be friends with someone like Hannity, but also think that Tucker Carlson is “full of it.” He can say positive things about Trump, Biden, and Ron DeSantis, while also pointing to the things he doesn’t like about them.
That sounds like most people, right?
Smith isn’t “most people,” though. The words of a public figure carry more weight. Smith built his television legacy on being the Black voice that “kept it real” in a white space. That hasn’t been the case for years. It’s especially even more damaging when you realize that most of the “barbershop” crowd that listens to him doesn’t know the difference between Hannity, Carlson, Trump, or DeSantis. They just know that they’re all white male Republicans. And when you befriend one of them, you befriend them all.
And that’s not to say that the folks in the barbershop aren’t intelligent enough to engage in conversation about politics. But, when’s the last time you’ve ever seen that happen in a Black — or white — barbershop?
Never. It’s an arena where debates about sports, music, and women take place, for the good or the bad — but mostly for the bad.
“If I thought I could win, yeah!” Smith told Paul Finebaum when he was asked if he’d ever consider running for president.
“But when I see some of the things that has transpired, I can honestly tell you that even though that answer would still be no… if enough people came to me and said to me, ‘Stephen A., you have a legitimate shot to win the presidency of the United States of America,’ I would strongly, strongly consider running.”
“I have no desire to ever be a politician, [to] ever run, but I would tell you I’ve lost so much respect from the nonsense that I see taking place on Capitol Hill, that if somebody said to me, ‘Stephen A. you could win this thing,’ yes I would run for the presidency of the United States of America,” Smith declared.
The most demoralizing thing about the 2016 Presidential Election — outside of Russia interfering with it — was that Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton gave people the idea that the country’s most important job was something anybody could do. On one side, we had the person with the best resume that’s ever run for President — Clinton. And on the other, was a man that was famous for being “rich.” So when you see people like Smith — who may not have even covered politics in his career — say things like he’s said, and is still saying, you start to realize why so many devalue the Oval Office and what it takes to reside in it.
Stephen A. Smith has become a household name by writing his opinion in columns or delivering takes on television. Somewhere along the line, he’s forgotten the first rule of sharing your views for a living. Which is that whatever you say sticks with you — even if you evolve and apologize for it. So when someone whose public foundation was once built on being the “voice of the people,” expands into sounding like the old white men he used to refute — you have to wonder if we’re watching a backward evolution or the revealing of one’s true self.