(Update Oct. 5, 2021): ESPN has temporarily removed sports anchor Sage Steele from the airwaves following the recent backlash she faced over her comments made on the podcast Uncut with Jay Cutler. During her interview with Cutler, Steele made bold statements about women needing to be "responsible" for the way they dress. The anchor also criticized former President Barack Obama and struck down ESPN and Disney’s vaccine mandates.
Front Office Sports reports she’ll be off the air for a week at a minimum. In addition, her hosting appearance at an event, ESPNW: Women + Sports Summit, which is scheduled for Oct. 18-20, has been pulled. The outlet also reports that she tested positive for COVID-19.
Steele apologized for her controversial statements Tuesday morning.
“I know my recent comments created controversy for the company, and I apologize,” she wrote in a statement, per USA Today.
"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,” she continued.
The network responded to Steele’s criticism in a statement. Though, the company did not indicate if she would face repercussions due to her conduct.
"At ESPN, we embrace different points of view — dialogue and discussion makes this place great," the company said.
"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," the statement read.
Original (Oct. 4, 2021): ESPN anchor Sage Steele found herself facing backlash after spewing a series of controversial comments during a discussion with former NFL quarterback Jay Cutler on Wednesday. Although it's unclear what led to their conversation about harassment against women, Steele shared her questionable perspective on the topic during Cutler's podcast Uncut
with Jay Cutler.
“I do think that as women we have to be responsible as well. It isn't just on players and coaches to act a certain way," the sports reporter said.
She then proceeded to regurgitate a comment often heard from conservative individuals who blame women for being victims of rape and harassment.
"When you dress like that, I’m not saying you deserve the gross comments, but you know what you’re doing when you put that outfit on too,” Steele said. "We know what we're doing when we put certain things on."
Cutler followed up with his approval, saying "that's so true."
Sage Steele believes women “need to be responsible as well” for inappropriate comments directed at them.
Sage tells young women, “when you dress like that, I’m not saying you deserve the gross comments, but you know what you’re doing when you put that outfit on too.” pic.twitter.com/6CrxOoXILN
— Resist Programming ???? (@RzstProgramming) October 4, 2021
Steele had some supporters on social media, but most found her comments to be disgusting.
No one is twisting her words. It literally came out her mouth. So if I walk down the street naked, I deserved to get sexually assaulted? I wouldn’t do that, but even if I did, do you believe someone has the right to assault me? Lol
— Black women are divine (@InJEVONweTrust) October 4, 2021
Some wondered if there is a particular type of clothing that is supposed to stop women from getting abused.
Please provide a list of clothing or outfit ideas that has EVER stopped rape or harassment. Go ahead
— Alkebulan ???? (@Iam__Alkebulan) October 4, 2021
She’s trying so hard to validate her very existence to a white man. Sad.
— kedomi (@kedomi) October 4, 2021
Steele appeared to be flattered when Cutler called her the “Candace Owens of ESPN.”
“I respect a lot of Candace Owens,” the anchor said.
Many social media users, however, are not impressed with the ESPN reporter following in the footsteps of the conservative pundit.
That’s why Cutler ???? compared her to Candace Owens. They are two peas in a pod of white supremacy.
— Wit My Sycamore Style (@moresycathan) October 4, 2021
Steele spewed several other head-turning comments during her discussion with Cutler. In regard to ESPN’s vaccine mandate, she said the orders are “sick” and “scary,” but wasn’t “surprised it got to this point with Disney, a global company.”
According to theGrio, the longtime reporter has been working for ESPN since 2007. She said she got the vaccine because she wanted to keep her job.
As Steele and Cutler moved to a discussion about the census, the ESPN reporter dragged former President Barack Obama into the topic.
Steele said it's interesting to see that Obama chooses to identify as “Black” on the census although he was raised by his white family while his Black father "was nowhere to be found.”