ESPN’s Sage Steele apologizes for controversial comments about Obama’s racial identity and vaccine mandate

Steele has been taken off the air after comments made during a September 29 podcast episode of “Uncut with Jay Cutler.”

In a statement to CNN, Steele said: “I know my recent comments have caused controversy for the company, and I apologize. We are in the midst of an extremely challenging time that affects all of us.” And it’s more important than ever that we communicate constructively and thoughtfully.”

While recording a podcast hosted by the former NFL quarterback, Steele made several comments that left many in the sports media scratching their heads. Speaking about ESPN’s company vaccine mandate, Steele said she respects one person’s decision to get a COVID-19 vaccine “but mandating it is sickening, and it’s scary to me.”

She also spoke to Cutler about her identity as a mixed-race woman, questioning Obama’s decision to identify as Black on the census.

“I’m like, ‘Okay, congratulations to the president.’ It’s her thing. I think it’s fascinating that her black father was nowhere to be found, but her white mother and grandmother raised her, but hey, you do. I’m going to do me,” Steele said.

Steele also commented on female sports journalists and sexual harassment, saying that women need to “be responsible” and that it is “not just on players and athletes and coaches to act a certain way.”

“I’ve had conversations with young women… they’re like, ‘Oh, would you watch my tape, do this’, and I’ve said listen, I’d love to. But the way you present yourself is like that. Not something I want to be associated with,” he said to Cutler, who nodded. “So when you wear clothes like this, I’m not saying you deserve gross comments, but you know what you’re doing when you’re even putting on that outfit.”

In an interview with CNN’s Brianna Keeler on New Day Wednesday, former ESPN host Carrie Champion, who currently co-hosts “Carrie and Jemel Will Stick to Sports,” said that many young brown girls in the industry Saw it, myself included. to steel. It was disappointing, she said, to see her make anti-black remarks and degrade women.

“There were a lot of things that were hurtful in[Steel’s comments],” Champion said, adding that he has worked with Steele in the past. “And it also shows that there is a lack of awareness on his part.”

Regarding her comments about female journalists in particular, Champion said that mentality, especially in a male-dominated business like sports broadcasting, only pushes women “further down”.

“(Steel) thinks she’s taken a moral high ground, and quite frankly what she’s done is set herself apart and put a divide between women in a business that’s already between us.” puts up a split,” Champion said. “It makes it difficult for us to get along because we feel like we have to compete. And that’s very frustrating.”

ESPN is in private discussions with Steele, a spokesman for the network said in a statement.

“At ESPN, we take a variety of perspectives – dialogue and discussion make this space great. That said, we expect those perspectives to be expressed respectfully, in line with our values, and in line with our internal policies,” They said. “We are in direct talks with Rishi and those conversations will remain private.”

Steele’s comments and his suspension come just a month after the network Deleted another famous host, Rachel Nichols, from her coverage of the NBA and canceled her show “The Jump,” the New York Times reported in July comments about Maria Taylor, another NBA analyst, during a private conversation in 2020.

As the Times reports, Nichols, who is White, said that Taylor, who is Black, was chosen to lead NBA Finals coverage because of the company’s diversity efforts.

Nichols later apologized on Air.


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