ESPN anchor Sage Steele is taking the network to court over what she alleges are violations of her free speech rights over comments made on a podcast last year.
Appearing on former Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler’s program, Steele called ESPN’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate policy “sick.” She then remarked that it was “fascinating” that former President Barack Obama chose “Black” on his census form “considering his Black dad was nowhere to be found.”
Steele, who is biracial, added that her White family loves her as much as her Black family. She then addressed the #MeToo movement, saying that women should take responsibility for clothes they wear around men and noted her development of a “thick skin” from working around athletes.
ESPN, far from simply being a network for sports fans, jumped head first onto the woke train in recent years and has no room for dissent. The blowback, according to Steele, was immediate.
After the tiresome meltdown by leftists on social media, the anchor says ESPN forced her to apologize. But even further, she alleges that the Disney subsidiary punished her by taking away top assignments and allowing colleagues to retaliate and harass her. The suit describes “selective enforcement” concerning network employees who were vocal on political and social issues.
In a statement, ESPN responded by saying that Steele is a valued contributor and, “as a point of fact, she was never suspended.” She counters that, after testing positive for COVID-19 and having to be absent, the company described her as being “sidelined” and “taking a break,” which the suit says are euphemisms for being suspended.
The filing says that multiple media outlets reported that she was absent from the network at that time for a disciplinary matter. However, it asserts ESPN did nothing to counter the claims because it stood to benefit from the perception that it took punitive action over her statements.
The days of sports being a distraction or refuge from the issues of real life are far behind, and the enjoyment of competition is often overshadowed by unnecessary social or political intrusions. And now it’ll be lawyers and likely a jury who decide the fate of an outspoken announcer who ran afoul of the woke mob.