Popular ESPN anchor Sage Steele has sued the network over allegations of violating her freedom of speech. Steele appeared on former Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler’s podcast last year to speak about a variety of things. There were two “controversial” moments during this podcast that negatively affected her career at ESPN which has spanned the better part of 15 years. Steele criticized ESPN (and parent company Disney) during the podcast when it came to virus mandates. She did not necessarily criticize those who got their “shots” but she did say the mandate itself was “sick”. Steele went on to criticize former President Barack Obama for his choice in racial identity. She is biracial, the same as Obama, and she simply wondered why he must identify as black and not biracial.
Sage Steele’s comments on Jay Cutler’s podcast not only alerted the higher-ups at ESPN but also alerted her coworkers. At least one of Steele’s coworkers refused to appear with her on-air after that. ESPN itself essentially “hid” Sage Steele away from the limelight that she had been enjoying for many years prior to that podcast appearance. Rather than appearing on television at the primetime hour during very important events, she was relegated to anchoring the 12-noon ESPN SportsCenter. All of the drama surrounding her podcast appearance prompted Steele to elevate a complaint to human resources. This allegedly prompted the network to give Steele a hosting gig for the Master’s Golf Tournament as sort of a PR olive branch to save face. Steele remains an employee of ESPN with two more years on her contract.
Other people have been fired from their jobs or otherwise punished in the same fashion as Sage Steele for their comments on and off the workplace. Project Veritas whistleblower Ivory Hecker was fired from her gig with a local Fox affiliate due to reporting about alternative treatments for the virus. Countless other people, both celebrity and non-celebrity, have been “cancelled” so to speak in the context of employment due to simply saying things that are unpopular or controversial. Sage Steele’s case is unique because Connecticut law does not allow employers to retaliate against an employee over constitutionally protected speech. Other people who work in other places may not be as fortunate as Steele. However, the outcome of this case may affect people in states where such gracious laws do not exist… yet.
Sage Steele sues ESPN after remarks on vaccine mandate and Obama’s race | Sport | The Guardian
Anchor Sage Steele is suing ESPN over free speech claims : NPR
Sage Steele sues ESPN, claims it sidelined her over vaccine comments – The Washington Post
Sage Steele sues ESPN, says free speech violated after COVID remarks
Anchor Sage Steele sues ESPN, alleging violation of free-speech rights
ESPN Anchor Sage Steele Sues Network Alleging Free-Speech Violation – YouTube
Sage Steele’s parents: Her dad was the first black man to play football at the US Military Academy – TheNetline
TV reporter Ivory Hecker, fired after accusing station of muzzling her, releases recordings – al.com
Jemele Hill stands by calling President Trump a white supremacist: ‘I thought I was saying water is wet’ – The Washington Post
Disney CEO Bob Iger on why ESPN’s Jemele Hill wasn’t punished for Trump tweets – MarketWatch