Disney Sued by ESPN Anchor Sage Steele Over Free Speech

in Disney, Sports

Sage Steele speaking on the Dan Patrick Show

Credit: The Dan Patrick Show

While in the midst of its own free speech lawsuit, the Walt Disney Company is being sued by ESPN anchor Sage Steele for violating her free speech.

Sage Steele appearing on Sports Center
Credit: ESPN

Related: Disney Hires Lawyer Who Represented Former President Donald Trump

A Graduate of Indiana University Bloomington, Sage Steele is an American television anchor known for her time with ESPN. She is most well-known for her stints as a host for SportsCenter and NBA Countdown, focusing primarily on basketball, football, and NASCAR. She has also hosted the Miss America pageant in 2017 and 2017 and the Scripps National Spelling Bee from 2010-2013

While she is currently still hired with ESPN, her screen time has decreased significantly. This is believed to be because of statements she made while appearing on the Uncut with Jay Cutler podcast in September 2021. During the interview, Steele commented on the Disney Covid vaccine mandate, saying it was “sick” and “scary.” On top of this, she questioned whether former President Barack Obama could identify as black even though his “dad was nowhere to be found.”

Although she initially apologized for the comments, she has since filed a lawsuit against ESPN and the Walt Disney Company for violating her freedom of expression.

Sage Steele Sues Disney, Drawing Comparisons to the DeSantis Lawsuit

Sage Steele appearing at ESPN Weekend
Credit: Jeff Kern

Related: Bob Chapek Named in New Lawsuit Against Disney Company

While still being hired, ESPN anchor Sage Steele is now suing the network and their parent company, Disney, for punishing her in response to her public comments. Many of her previous positions and roles had been diminished or taken away entirely. The lawsuit is keen to note that even though ESPN has stated this was due to company policy regarding political commentary, it has been inconsistent regarding who gets in trouble. On top of this, the vaccination itself wasn’t an issue since Steele was compliant with the company vaccine policy.

Bryan Freedman, Steele’s attorney, who also represents Tucker Carlson and Don Lemon and is rumored to be advising former Disney CEO Bob Chapek, has stated this is not about whether a company can mandate vaccination but retaliation.

“This case is about one thing and one thing only, and that’s retaliating against Sage Steele for exercising her right to free speech under Connecticut law.” Freeman continued, “Disney’s legal position concerning the actions that led to this lawsuit with Sage Steele is a significant legal inconsistency that could cause Disney self-inflicted harm in the Florida courts. Disney should be very careful here.”

Sage Steele speaking on NBA Countdown
Credit: ESPN

Related: DeSantis Vows to Protect Free Speech as Disney Sues Him for Violating Theirs

While many people have pointed out the irony in Disney being sued for violating free speech while suing Florida Governor Ron DeSantis for violating their free speech, the Walt Disney Company has one surprising person who agrees with them: Sage Steele.

“I wholeheartedly agree with Disney’s position that in America, the government cannot punish you for speaking your mind. In my opinion, it begins and ends with diversity of thought. We must fight to preserve that fundamental constitutional right.”

Whose side are you on in this situation? Let Inside the Magic know in the comments down below!

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