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

Steele has been faraway from air following feedback made throughout a September 29 podcast episode of “Uncut With Jay Cutler.”

In an announcement to CNN, Steele stated: “I do know my current feedback created controversy for the corporate, and I apologize. We’re within the midst of a particularly difficult time that impacts all of us, and it is extra important than ever that we talk constructively and thoughtfully.”

Whereas recording the podcast hosted by the previous NFL quarterback, Steele made a number of feedback that left many in sports activities media scratching their heads. Whereas speaking about ESPN’s firm vaccine mandate, Steele stated she respects a person’s determination to get the Covid-19 vaccine “however to mandate it’s sick, and it is scary to me.”

She additionally spoke to Cutler about her identification as a mixed-race lady, questioning Obama’s determination to establish as Black on the census.

“I am like, ‘Properly, congratulations to the president.’ That is his factor. I feel that is fascinating contemplating his Black dad was nowhere to be discovered, however his White mother and grandma raised him, however hey, you do you. I’ll do me,” Steele stated.

Steele additionally made feedback about feminine sports activities reporters and sexual harassment, saying that girls have to “be accountable” and it “is not simply on gamers and athletes and coaches to behave a sure method.”

“I’ve had talks with younger ladies … they’re like ‘Oh, would you have a look at my tape, would do that,’ and I’ve stated pay attention, I might like to. However the way in which you current your self will not be one thing I need to be related to,” she informed Cutler, who nodded. “So while you gown like that, I am not saying you deserve the gross feedback, however you recognize what you are doing while you’re placing that outfit on, too.”

In an interview with CNN’s Brianna Keilar on New Day Wednesday, former ESPN host Cari Champion, who at present co-hosts “Cari & Jemele Will not Keep on with Sports activities,” stated many younger brown women within the business, together with herself, had regarded as much as Steele. To listen to her make anti-Black feedback and demean ladies, she stated, was disappointing.

“(Steele’s feedback) implied so many issues that have been hurtful,” stated Champion, who said that she has labored with Steele prior to now. “And it additionally exhibits that there is a lack of an consciousness on her half.”

Concerning her feedback about ladies reporters particularly, Champion stated that mentality, particularly in a male-dominated enterprise like sports activities broadcasting, solely pushes ladies “additional down.”

“(Steele) thinks that she has taken the ethical excessive floor, and fairly frankly all she’s accomplished is separated herself and put a division between ladies in a enterprise that already places a division between us,” Champion stated. “It makes it arduous for us to get alongside as a result of we really feel like now we have to compete. And it is so disappointing.”

ESPN is having non-public discussions with Steele, a spokesperson for the community stated in an announcement.

“At ESPN, we embrace totally different factors of view — dialogue and dialogue make this place nice. That stated, we anticipate that these factors of view be expressed respectfully, in a way in keeping with our values, and consistent with our inside insurance policies,” they stated. “We’re having direct conversations with Sage and people conversations will stay non-public.”

Steele’s feedback and her suspension come simply over a month after the community removed another well-known host, Rachel Nichols, from her protection of the NBA and canceled her present “The Soar,” after the New York Occasions reported in July feedback that she made about one other NBA analyst, Maria Taylor throughout a personal dialog in 2020.

In accordance with the Occasions’ report, Nichols, who’s White, stated Taylor, who’s Black, was chosen to guide NBA Finals protection because of the firm’s variety efforts.

Nichols later apologized on air.

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