ESPN's Stephen Smith Defends Reporter Who Asked Question That Brought Naomi Osaka to Tears

Naomi Osaka's agent slammed the reporter over the question, calling him a "bully" whose "sole purpose was to intimidate."

ESPN host Stephen Smith is defending the reporter whose question brought tennis champion Naomi Osaka to tears.

“I thought the reporter was incredibly fair and incredibly delicate with how he asked the question,” Smith said.

Smith was referring to an Ohio press conference last week during which Cincinnati Enquirer columnist Paul Daugherty asked Osaka this question: “You also have outside interests beyond tennis that are served by having the platform that the media presents to you. My question is, how do you think you might be able to best balance the two?”

Osaka was overcome with emotion and left the press conference soon after. Her agent harshly criticized the question, calling Daugherty a “bully” whose “sole purpose was to intimidate.”

But Smith disagreed. “My issue is with the agent. He is so off base with what he said,” he said.

The “First Take” commentator went on to commend Osaka for speaking out about mental health.

“It does take a level of courage to just open yourself up to folks you don't know or you may not trust,” Smith said.

Last month, Smith came under fire for criticizing MLB star Shohei Ohtani’s use of a language interpreter for TV interviews, before apologizing for his comments, saying there was “no excuse.”

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