ESPN is having “direct” and “private” conversations with anchor Sage Steele after she made controversial comments involving the company’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate, former president Barack Obama and woman journalists recently.
“At ESPN, we embrace different points of view — dialogue and discussion makes this place great,” ESPN said in a statement. “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.”
Steele has been removed from the air and won’t appear again for at least a week, according to Front Office Sports, after she tested positive for COVID-19. Front Office Sports also reported that both ESPN and Steele “thought it was appropriate for her to take some time off.”
Her comments stem from an appearance on the “Uncut with Jay Cutler” podcast, where she called ESPN’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate “sick” and said that she received the vaccine but “didn’t want to do it.” Steele also criticized Obama for identifying as Black on the recent census and blamed the harassment that woman journalists receive on their outfits.
“I know my recent comments created controversy for the company, and I apologize,” Steele said in a statement. “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.”
Steele was slated to host the espnW Women + Sports Summit — which takes place from Oct. 18-20 — but isn’t expected to anymore, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.