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Sage Steele settled her lawsuit with ESPN and parent company Disney on Tuesday. In doing so, Disney admitted liability for taking away her right to free speech.
One would think that Steele prevailing is a win for journalism. As we wrote Tuesday, Steele’s lawsuit informed Disney and companies alike that employees are not powerless. That there are consequences of applying punishment disproportionately on the basis of a company-wide political bias.
Yet, it’s members in the media who have taken more issue with the lawsuit.
See, journalists and commentators who are paid to express opinions are not bothered that a media conglomerate would suppress a host for voicing her opinions. Rather, they are bothered that said host would dare fight back, to challenge the machine.
Former ESPN host Keith Olbermann, a lonely man in an apartment full of aging pets, claimed Steele misunderstands the Constitution.
Another former ESPN host, Taylor Twellman, argued the same:
As did Nancy Armour, a nasty woman who pens useless articles for USA Today.
Robert Littal, who founded Black Sports Online where he admittedly sexually harassed his female employees, responded to the news by calling Steele a “coon” better locked in a cage:
What a cringing rat that guy is.
Such reactions from the press, and there were more, were expected. The “cool kid” club of sports media abhors Steele. They cannot stand that a woman of color would lean right politically, marry a white man (as the racist man above bemoaned), challenge vaccine mandates, and dare to question Barack Obama.
Therefore, they would rather root for the muzzling of a fellow commentator than see her win.
Second, the criticism that Steele is not entitled to “free speech” rights while at work suggests an ignorance to her lawsuit.
While correct that the First Amendment is about government action and not a private workplace, Steele’s lawsuit refers to Connecticut law, specifically “General Statutes § 31-51q by Disciplining Employee for Constitutionally Protected Speech.”
As per her lawsuit, which you can read in full here, “Connecticut law holds employers liable for
‘disciplining or discharging’ any employee as a result of that employee’s exercise of his or her right
of free speech as protected under the federal and state constitutions.”
In layman’s terms, Connecticut law prohibits private employers from disciplining their employees for engaging in constitutionally protected speech, whether that speech takes place in the workplace or outside of it.
And therein lies her case.
To recap: ESPN disciplined Steele — through a suspension — for voicing an opinion on the vaccine and Obama from a center-right perspective, a perspective that ran afoul of orthodoxy that has infested Disney.
Thereby, per Connecticut law, Disney is liable for disciplining Steele for voicing her right to free speech.
So, claims that Steele’s “free speech” is not applicable to the private sector are not astute, or even accurate.
In fact, Disney’s lawyers feared that specific law from the start, thus why they tried to argue Steele didn’t establish personal jurisdiction in Connecticut (where ESPN is headquartered) to sue a company based in California, as the Disney parent company is.
Critics of Steele are both overly emotional and not that bright. No wonder Jemele Hill is one of them.
But what gets them the most is that Steele shed a bright light on the hypocrisy that lies within mass media, where liberal-leaning pundits have free reign but conservative pundits ought to stay silent.
And for that, as we argued Tuesday, Sage Steele won regardless of the financial details of her settlement — which we suspect are also quite satisfying.
Per our column:
Above all, Steele’s lawsuit informed Disney and companies alike that employees are not powerless. That there are consequences of applying punishment disproportionately on the basis of a company-wide political bias.
Steele sent a warning to the executive wing of corporate America. She sent hope to the muzzled wing of the working class. Both messages were heard.
The value of un-silencing the silenced is priceless.
Steele didn’t sue her employer for money. She sued her employer for those like her. For her colleagues who self-censor. For her three teenage children who will soon enter the workforce.
Steele sued her employer for you. For those like you. For those across the country afraid to speak out while those around them shout.
And for that, Sage Steele won.OutKick.
Sage Steele won. She is un-silenced. And they hate that.