Sage Steele Exits ESPN After Settling Lawsuit Over Coronavirus Controversy
Former ESPN anchor and sports journalist Sage Steele has officially cut ties with ESPN following a lawsuit over statements she made in opposition to its COVID-19 vaccination policy.
As previously reported, Steele turned down a $500,000 settlement from the network’s parent company, Walt Disney Co., due to feeling that her First Amendment rights were infringed upon when she was forced to take a leave of absence in 2021. The 50-year-old anchor alleges that she was treated unfairly following an appearance on former NFL quarterback Jay Cutler’s podcast in which she criticized Disney’s vaccine mandate, questioned former President Barack Obama’s lineage, and openly rebuked the clothing choices of her female peers. Steele would later serve a two-day suspension and claims she was intimidated into issuing an apology for fear of termination.
ESPN is amid great upheaval after parting ways with some of its most recognizable figures; however, according to Variety, Steele’s departure was a mutual decision. “Having successfully settled my case with ESPN/Disney, I have decided to leave so I can exercise my First Amendment rights more freely,” Steele said. “I am grateful for so many wonderful experiences over the past 16 years and am excited for my next chapter!” The sports giant released a statement further cementing the end of the partnership. “ESPN and Sage Steele have mutually agreed to part ways. We thank her for her many contributions over the years,” the network said.
Steele will join the likes of Jalen Rose, Mark Jackson, and Keyshawn Johnson, who have all been relieved of their roles at ESPN. Over nearly two decades, Steele sat at the desk for some of the network’s most popular shows, including Sportscenter and NBA Countdown. Throughout her tenure, she often ruffled feathers with her surprisingly conservative views and critical analysis of race relations in recent years.