Sage Steele, an ESPN anchor, is suing the network, claiming that it violated her right to free expression by airing comments she made last year.
Last September, Steele was chastised for comments she made on a podcast hosted by former NFL quarterback Jay Cutler. During her visit, the SportsCenter host referred to ESPN’s vaccination mandate as “sick,” suggested that female reporters adjust their attire to prevent improper comments from male players, and questioned whether Barack Obama is Black.
“What are you going to put if they make you select a race?” Steele, who is multiracial, replied at the time, “Well, both.” “Barack Obama selected the color black, and he’s mixed… Congratulations to the President; it’s his specialty.
That’s amazing, especially given that his Black father is nowhere to be found, and he was raised by his white mother and grandmother, but OK.
You’re free to be yourself. I’m going to do me. Listen, I’m very certain my white mother was present when I was born. And my white family adores me just as much as my black family does.”
Former ESPN writer Jemele Hill was among those who called Steele a “clown” over her statements. Steele was suspended from the network for a brief period of time and apologized at the time.
However, according to the complaint, the 49-year-old claims that ESPN cut her role at the network in retaliation, failed to safeguard her from being bullied by coworkers and limited her free expression. The lawsuit, which seeks unspecified monetary damages, also accuses ESPN of neglecting to consider Steele’s remarks in context.