Sage Steele has broken her silence about what she says is “hypocrisy” at ESPN. Steele, now a former ESPN employee, was a guest on Megyn Kelly’s YouTube show Thursday, just days after leaving the network.
Steele provided the “life update” on X, formerly Twitter, saying her lawsuit against the company was settled, and she decided to leave so she can “exercise my first amendment rights more freely.
Before Steele spoke, Kelly showed a montage of ESPN broadcasters voicing political opinions on the air.
“All I ever wanted was consistency,” Steele told Kelly. “And if we are allowing my peers to go on social media, much less on our own airwaves, saying things that have nothing to do with sports, that are political … then I should be allowed on my personal time to give my opinion on my experiences personally, without telling others what to do or how to feel being biracial or being forced to take a vaccine.
“I think that’s just what breaks my heart. That there were different rules for me than everyone else.”
Steele reflected on the time she felt forced to apologize after another incident with ESPN brass.
ESPN’s Sage Steele also expressed support for Riley Gaines. (Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)
“I did not want to apologize. I fought. I fought, and I begged and I screamed. And I was told that if I want to keep my job, I have to apologize. And I need my job,” she said. “And they knew that.”
However, Steele said, issues continued, and “there were events taken away as I’ve worked years to get.”
“It’s interesting. I think in anything in life, quite often, we say, ‘All right, one more time and it’s over, and I’m done …’ I knew that there was a line somewhere,” she explained.
That line was the Rose Bowl Parade. Steele had covered it previously but not this year.
“I knew that, mentally, I had checked out and was heartbroken again at the hypocrisy of the rules. A rule’s a rule for everybody or nobody. You can’t pick and choose, especially if it’s just one person. It’s just me.”
Sage Steele speaks onstage during The Players Tailgate Hosted By Bobby Flay for Super Bowl LVII Feb. 12, 2023, in Phoenix, Ariz. (Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Bullseye Event Group)
Steele’s lawsuit accused ESPN of selective enforcement of its policy that bars news employees from commenting on politics and social issues.
The suit alleged ESPN “violated Connecticut law and Steele’s rights to free speech based upon a faulty understanding of her comments and a nonexistent, unenforced workplace policy that serves as nothing more than pretext” and claimed the network relied on “inaccurate third-party accounts of Steele’s comments” and “did not immediately review the actual comments or the context in which they were made.”
She joined ESPN in 2007 after starting out at Comcast SportsNet. She became one of the mainstays on “SportsCenter” and made appearances on “NBA Countdown.”
Fox News’ Ryan Gaydos contributed to this report.