Broadcaster Sage Steele has left ESPN, the company and Steele announced Tuesday. She said she made the decision so she could exercise her First Amendment Rights “more freely” after having settled a lawsuit she filed last year.
“Life update. Having successfully settled my case with ESPN/Disney, I have decided to leave so I can exercise my first amendment rights more freely. I am grateful for so many wonderful experiences over the past 16 years and am excited for my next chapter!” she posted to X, formerly known as Twitter.
Steele sued ESPN after, she said, she was “sidelined” for making controversial comments blasting ESPN’s Covid vaccination policy and questioning former President Barack Obama’s racial identity on a podcast.
ESPN said in a statement that the two “mutually agreed to part ways.”
“We thank her for her many contributions over the years,” the company said.
On an episode of the “Uncut With Jay Cutler” podcast with Cutler, a former Chicago Bears quarterback, Steele said she had just been vaccinated and referred to ESPN’s vaccination mandate as “sick.”
Steele also accused former “The View” host Barbara Walters of having belittled her for identifying as biracial. Steele told Cutler that Walters asked her in a conversation what race she would choose on the census.
When Steele responded, “Well, both,” Walters then made a comment about Obama’s choosing Black, she said.
“And I’m like, well, congratulations to the president,” Steele said on the podcast. “That’s his thing. I think that’s fascinating considering his Black dad was nowhere to be found but his white mom and grandma raised him. But hey, you do you. I’m going to do me.”
Shortly after the podcast, ESPN announced that she had been taken off the air.
Steele said in her lawsuit that her comments sparked a media frenzy and that ESPN, acting in a knee-jerk fashion, “relied on the misleading characterizations of her comments,” forced her to publicly apologize and suspended her in October 2021. ESPN, however, denied ever having suspended her.