The thoroughness with which ESPN has covered the Derek Chauvin verdict has been noticeable, and a course not entirely imaginable several years ago. It speaks to both the magnitude of the moment and how the network sees itself in the larger, non-sports ecosystem. And it makes sense, especially since the death of George Floyd sparked widespread action by athletes, which has continued over the past year.
That's a long way to say it's a bit surprising to click over to First Take this morning and find Stephen A. Smith weighing in on comments made by Fox News' marquee star Tucker Carlson last night. The Washington Post headline summarizes the primetime host's stance as believing the jury was intimidated into a verdict by protestors.
Smith was fairly straightforward and didn't get personal, but did suggest that "these are the kinds of things that make people shake and make people shiver because you realize in the face of such obvious flagrant evidence, there's still going to be somebody who opens the subject to debate."
He is on pretty solid ground here. We all saw the video. This was not complicated. But there's a tremendously lucrative future in making painfully obvious things less so. In training viewers to bend over backwards after unhinging basic humanity.