ESPN’s Smith joins the de­bate on Trump

The Washington Post Sunday - - WASHINGTONPOST.COM/SPORTS - BY DES BIELER des­mond.bieler@wash­post.com Ex­cerpted from wash­ing­ton­post.com/ear­lylead

We’re used to see­ing Stephen A. Smith get­ting into heated con­ver­sa­tions on TV. It’s just that, usu­ally, those de­bates are about sports and take place on ESPN. Thurs­day, how­ever, brought a change of pace and place: Fox News view­ers found Smith de­bat­ing po­lit­i­cal is­sues — with, among oth­ers, Ted Nu­gent.

The Nuge, of course, has long carved out a per­sona as a con­ser­va­tive fig­ure. Smith’s own po­lit­i­cal lean­ings are less clear, but he was happy to take is­sue with the no­tion, ex­pressed by Nu­gent and “The Fox News Spe­cial­ists” host Eric Bolling, that Pres­i­dent Trump’s Twit­ter habits were do­ing him any good.

“If you are the pres­i­dent of the United States of Amer­ica, you are 70 years of age, and you are tweet­ing — lit­er­ally com­pet­ing with 15and 17-year-olds, that is a prob­lem,” Smith said. He was re­act­ing to Bolling’s as­ser­tion — that Trump’s woes were the re­sult of Repub­li­cans cav­ing into pres­sure by Democrats — by point­ing out that the pres­i­dent had brought much of his dif­fi­cul­ties on him­self with some ill-con­sid­ered posts.

Nu­gent, whose al­bum “Cat Scratch Fever” was re­leased 40 years ago this month, soon jumped in. He said of Trump, “He’s not com­pet­ing with 15-year-olds. He’s cir­cum­vent­ing the fake news net­works that will not give any hon­est representation, so he’s us­ing so­cial me­dia.”

Smith won­dered what the mu­si­cian’s point had to with Trump’s pen­chant for us­ing Twit­ter to in­sult those he per­ceives as en­e­mies. “You’re a grown man. You’re pres­i­dent of the United States,” Smith said.

Some might have been sur­prised to see a sports pun­dit such as Smith on “Spe­cial­ists,” but those who have noticed some un­usual book­ings by the show, which de­buted this month, were less taken aback. Hall of Fame quar­ter­back Joe Na­math and pro wrestler and body­builder Tyrus — who wres­tled in the WWE as Bro­dus Clay — have been guests.

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