ESPN Allows Bomani Jones To Talk Trump Arrest On Air, But Suspended Sage Steele

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ESPN host Stephen A. Smith addressed the network’s ban on discussing politics last summer. He questioned why ESPN does not enforce the rule consistently across all offenders.

“You can’t let one person get away with [talking politics at ESPN] and not let the other person get away with it,” Smith said. “The rules have to be for everybody. ”

Case in point: Sage Steele and Bomani Jones.

In 2021, ESPN suspended Sage Steele, the only openly conservative talent at the network. Steele’s offense included answering a question about politics on Jay Cutler’s podcast.

She disagreed that bi-racial people like herself must declare themselves black or white on the census, amid Barack Obama calling himself African American.

Steele also opposed vaccine mandates. Not the vaccine, but being forced to take a jab.

In addition to her suspension, ESPN forced Steele to issue an apology. The network removed her from planned assignments, such as the ESPNW Summit.

The head of ESPN PR, Chris LaPlaca, issued a statement condemning Steele’s actions:

“At ESPN, we embrace different points of view – dialogue and discussion makes 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.”

ESPN’s no-politics policy applied to Sage Steele.

Yet it doesn’t apply to Bomani Jones, one of the many openly liberal hosts on the network (but the most unsuccessful).

On Tuesday, ESPN promoted a segment from Jones’ podcast that airs on its network. The lead topic focused on former President Donald Trump’s potential arrest.

“This dude is probably going to get indicted and then without shame run for president of the United States,” said Bomani on ESPN.

ESPN Doesn’t Respond To Request For Comment

OutKick asked ESPN PR reps Chris LaPlaca and Josh Krulewitz for comment on allowing Jones to violate the policy the company claims Sage Steele violated.

Unfortunately, neither LaPlaca nor Krulewitz has replied. They ceased responding to requests for comment after defending an ESPN talent who compared red-state voting laws to genocide in China. (More on that in a bit.)

So don’t expect ESPN to respond, suspend Bomani, release a statement, or force him to apologize.

The disparate reaction to Steele and Jones comes at an intriguing time. Steele is suing both ESPN and its parent company, Disney, for retaliating against her for exercising her free speech rights while allowing her colleagues to violate the same supposed restriction.

Bomani Jones discussing Trump’s potential arrest on ESPN is further proof of her claim. But it’s only the latest example.

Others include but are not limited to the following:

— Elle Duncan interrupting a college basketball game to oppose a bill prohibiting the sexual indoctrination of third graders.

— Elle Duncan (again) using ESPN’s studio, equipment, and producers to demand that “girl dads” speak up so that their daughters can have abortions in all 50 states.

— J.A. Adande saying red state voting laws are just as bad as the CCP torturing, raping, and killing Uyghur Muslims in the Xinjiang region of China.

 — Jemele Hill calling then-President Donald Trump a “white supremacist.” (ESPN did not suspend Hill for these comments, but for later advising viewers to boycott the NFL, a company partner.)

— Dan Le Batard calling ESPN’s no-politics ban “cowardly” while on ESPN Radio.

— Max Kellerman declaring Donald Trump supporters “susceptible to very low-quality information and easy to propagandize and almost immune to facts.

— The network lying about the Jan. 6 death toll while defending the BLM riots.

— Malika Andrews stopping NBA Draft coverage to protest that the Supreme Court ruled in favor of giving abortion rights back to the states.

As Stephen A. Smith says, ESPN does not impose its ban on politics — a policy Chairman Jimmy Pitaro confirmed publicly — universally.

One is privileged. One is successful.

In fact, it appears Sage Steele is the only person it does not allow to disobey the edict.

It must be just a coincidence the sole conservative talent on the network doesn’t have the same rights as the liberal pundits.

Ultimately, Steele is an easy target for ESPN. The media doesn’t like her because she’s a conservative woman of color. They call her Candace Ownes and a sell-out.

Her black colleagues tried to remove her “black card” ahead of a social justice special in 2020.

In short, the media will not accuse ESPN of racism for punishing Steele.

Meanwhile, ESPN knows if it dares to condemn Bomani Jones for covering Trump that he and his media lackeys will frame it as “ESPN silencing a black man.”

Same with Duncan, Adande, Andrews, and the mentally unstable Stan Verrett — none of whom have the talent, success, or market value of Steele. They are privileged that way.

Sage Steele, as a biracial conservative woman at ESPN, is not.

The hypocrisy is unfortunate. It’s a slap in the face to sports fans, a group not in unison on one political ideology.

However, the double standard is great proof of what Sage Steele alleges in her lawsuit against ESPN.

Written by Bobby Burack

Bobby Burack is a writer for OutKick where he reports and analyzes the latest topics in media, culture, sports, and politics..

Burack has become a prominent voice in media and has been featured on several shows across OutKick and industry related podcasts and radio stations.


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  1. A case could be made that Bomani Jones is the biggest failure in mass media history. Everything he touches, from ESPN TV, ESPN radio, podcasts, HBO (in which he loses 80% of Bill Maher’s lead in)… results in a ratings disaster. Yet he’s still able to get a show. Talk about liberal black privilege.

  2. How many actually heard Jones’ latest hate-filled rant is irrelevant. The point is ESPN has stopped pretending to be anything but a loud and profane radical media tool ………. That any % of MAGA-America still tunes in to ESPN is the sad reality. MAGA-America still visits Disney theme parks and watches Disney movies …..

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