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ESPN news anchor Sage Steele has apologized for controversial remarks she made during a podcast appearance about the network’s vaccine mandate, female sports reporters’ attire and Barack Obama’s racial identity.
“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,” the “SportsCenter” anchor said in a statement obtained by CNN.
“I respect everyone’s decision, I really do, but to mandate it is sick and it’s scary to me in many ways,” Steele said former NFL quarterback Jay Cutler’s podcast of ESPN’s vaccine policy. “I’m not surprised it got to this point, especially with Disney, I mean a global company like that.”
Her remarks about Obama were met with criticism.
“If they make you choose a race, what are you gonna put? Well, both,” said Steele, who’s biracial. “I’m like, ‘Well, congratulations to the president. That’s his thing.’ 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,” she said.
But for some, the worst of Steele’s remarks were comments about her fellow female sportscasters.
“I’ve had talks with young women … they’re like ‘Oh, would you look at my tape, would do this,’ and I’ve said listen, I would love to. But the way you present yourself is not something I want to be associated with,” she told Cutler. “So when you dress like that, I’m not saying you deserve the gross comments, but you know what you’re doing when you’re putting that outfit on, too.”
Steele was pulled air this week and will not be hosting host the annual espnW Women + Sports Summit later this month as planned.
ESPN released to following statement: “At ESPN, we embrace different points of view — dialogue and discussion make 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. We are having direct conversations with Sage and those conversations will remain private.”