ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith Says He Knows Trump Is Not ‘Racist’ from Personal Experience
ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith recently batted down claims that Donald Trump is a racist and said he never saw or heard Trump acting like a bigot during any of their many personal meetings.
The ESPN First Take host was speaking at the Semafor Media Summit on Monday when the topic of the former president was raised in a question-and-answer period.
Smith noted that he and Trump were on personal terms before the 2016 election and had found common ground in sports.
“I knew Trump before he ran for the presidency,” Smith said during the event. “I thoroughly enjoyed talking to him. He was a huge sports fan.”
Smith added that he had attended several events sponsored by the then-New York real estate tycoon.
“He used to throw a lot of events at — you know — at his casinos and stuff like that, and I genuinely liked him,” the ESPN talker insisted.
Still, he felt that the Trump who ran for the White House starting in 2015 was a version of Trump that stunned Smith, and he added, “I didn’t know who this guy was running for president.”
Still, Smith pushed back on the left’s constant claim that Trump is somehow a racist.
“I think he’s changed, but I will tell you this: I think when people call him racist and stuff like that, I’ve never thought of Trump that way,” Smith told the audience.
Smith added that he had never witnessed Trump display animosity toward blacks.
“He’s not against black people,” Smith said.
.@stephenasmith says he no longer talks to Trump: "I think he's changed, but I will tell you this: I think when people call him racist and stuff like that, I've never thought of Trump that way. He's not against black people, he's against all things not named Trump." pic.twitter.com/oFcOra6zkL
— Semafor (@semafor) April 10, 2023
But Smith added the qualifier that “He’s against all things not named Trump.”
Regarding politics, Smith added that he is not “beyond” voting for a Republican, but he could not vote for Trump.
The last time Smith spoke publicly about the former president was at the end of May when he claimed Trump decided to run for president because the NFL aced him out of owning a pro football team.
“In 2014, Donald Trump wanted to purchase the Buffalo Bills, and when he wanted to purchase the Buffalo Bills — this was before he ever decided to run for president — Donald Trump called yours truly. That would be me. And he said that he wanted to purchase the Buffalo Bills,” Smith said. “And I’ll never forget what he said to me. He said if those owners screw me over, and I’m just using the FCC allowable version, and he didn’t say it like that, but I’m paraphrasing, he said if they screw me over, he said I’m going to show them. I’m going to get them all back. I’m going to run for President of the United States. That’s what he said to me in 2014.”
Smith has also stuck up for Trump before. In 2017, for instance, he called on the black community not to criticize black leaders who visited Trump and suggested people should respect the decision to meet and use “intellect” instead of “emotion” to “decipher where we go from here.”