ESPN anchor Sage Steele has been put on leave following an awe-inspiring podcast rant in which she called her employer’s vaccine mandate “sick,” and questioned former President Barack Obama’s blackness.
Steele also said that female reporters “know what they doing” when they dress provocatively — and if that’s actually controversial then I’ve never enjoyed a Bloody Mary during morning working hours.
She made her remarks on former Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler’s podcast last week and, sadly, has since backed down from them.
A “network source” quoted in the Daily Mail said Steele had been removed to recover from the Wuhan Flu, after taking the mandated vaccination shot over her own objections.
Let’s get to the juicy stuff before we get to the really juicy stuff.
On last Wednesday’s episode of “Uncut with Jay Cutler,” Steele let loose.
Trigger warning: This is the same Steele who in 2017 risked being branded a conservative for saying of her new ESPN AM anchor duties, “You can’t worry about offending someone, because there will always be someone who gets offended.”
Asked last week about ESPN’s vaccine mandate, Steele said, “I respect everyone’s decision, I really do, but to mandate it is sick and it’s scary to me in many ways. But I have a job, a job that I love and, frankly, a job that I need.”
Race can be a touchy — if that’s the right word, I don’t mean to be pejorative — subject for Steele, who has been attacked for identifying as biracial.
She claimed that [an unnamed] show host told her she had to choose either white or black when filling out federal census data. Steele said the host then cited that Obama identified as black on his census.
“I’m like, ‘Well, congratulations to the president. That’s his thing,'” Steele said.
“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.”
Having skin in this particular game, as it were, Steele should feel free to speak her mind on the issue.
Perhaps more controversially, Steele called out her female colleagues for dressing too sexily.
It isn’t just on players and athletes and coaches to act a certain way.
I mean I’ve had talks with young women who… just other women who reach out to me now.
And I’ve said to a couple of them, they’re like, “Well would you look at my tape, would you do this?”
And I said, listen I would love to, but the way that you present yourself is not something I want to be associated with.
A bare amount of modesty is apparently too provocative for ESPN.
The network didn’t just take Steele off the air for a week to “recover” from COVID. They also booted her from the female-focused espnW Women + Sports Summit that takes place a week after her mandated recovery time has ended.
ESPN also released a statement saying in part, “At ESPN, we embrace different points of view — dialogue and discussion makes this place great. That said, we expect that those points of view be expressed respectfully, in a manner consistent with our values, and in line with our internal policies.”
In other words: Everything before “That said” was meaningless boilerplate.
Steele got the message, too.
ESPN released a statement from Steele in which she wrote, “I know my recent comments created controversy for the company, and I apologize. We are in the midst of an extremely challenging time that impacts all of us, and it’s more critical than ever that we communicate constructively and thoughtfully.”
I thought she had communicated “constructively and thoughtfully,” even though I’m apparently a much bigger fan of provocatively dressed female reporters than she is.
What a shame.
Women could use a lot more of Steele’s strong example — her example from 2017.