8 Times ESPN Let Liberal Pundits Get Away With Things It Won’t Let Sage Steele Do

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ESPN anchor Sage Steele is suing the network, alleging that it retaliated against her for exercising her free speech rights during a podcast with Jay Cutler in 2021.

Steele says ESPN benched her, gave her an unofficial suspension, for questioning the company’s vaccine mandate and commenting on Barack Obama identifying as black.

Steele, the only openly conservative host at the network, alleges that ESPN uses selective enforcement on disciplinary issues. She’s right.

Here are eight examples:

Jemele Hill

While at ESPN, Jemele Hill called then-President Donald Trump a “white supremacist.”

Contrary to what Hill defenders are tweeting today, ESPN did not discipline Hill for this comment. Instead, ESPN suspended her when she later encouraged sponsors to boycott the NFL, an ESPN partner.

“Change happens when advertisers are impacted,” Hill wrote. “If you feel strongly about [Cowboys owner Jerry Jones’] statement, boycott his advertisers.”

ESPN allowed Hill to call Trump a “white supremacist,” but benched Steele for questioning Obama. Ahh.

Dan Le Batard

Critics of Steele say ESPN disciplined her, in part, because she questioned a company policy. If so, that’s also an example of selective enforcement.

In 2019, Dan Le Batard called out ESPN’s ban on political topics because he wanted to bash Trump over comments that Trump made about Democrat representative Ilhan Omar. Le Batard said on air that his bosses and their policies were “cowardly.”

Le Batard went on to call Trump an “old white man,” in case anyone didn’t know.

Le Batard violated network policy and roasted his network on air. ESPN didn’t mind. He faced no repercussions.

Howard Bryant

In October, Howard Bryant called his employer ESPN racist for not having enough non-former athletes who are black men as analysts on studio pregame shows.

For context, there are only two non-former athletes in analyst roles on ESPN studio shows: Stephen A. Smith and Michael Wilbon, both of whom are — get this — black men.

Bryant also assaulted his wife. All good at ESPN, though.

(Fire him for idiocy.)

Mark Jones

ESPN certainly doesn’t violate Mark Jones’ free speech rights. This year, ESPN re-signed and gave Jones a salary raise after:

  • Cheering when 49ers linebacker Nick Bosa, who may have voted for Trump, suffered a torn ACL.
  • Mocking UFC fighter Colby Covington, a conservative, when he broke his jaw.
  • Asserting that police are more likely to shoot black people dead than escort them to safety.
  • Lying on air and reporting that police officers shot Jacob Blake while he was “unarmed.”
  • Sharing comments telling conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh torot in hell” moments after Limbaugh’s wife announced his death.

That’s called freedom of speech at ESPN. Congrats on your extension, Mark.

Jalen Rose

Speaking of Jacob Blake, ESPN host Jalen Rose interrupted an NBA halftime show this past fall to condemn the police for “killing” Jacob Blake.

However, the police didn’t kill Blake. He’s still alive.

Liar or dummy?

JA Adande

Here’s a moment of free speech for you: In February, JA Adande appeared on ESPN airwaves to explain why the CCP torturing, raping and killing Uyghur Muslims in the Xinjiang region of China is not as bad as red states requiring voter ID.

ESPN wouldn’t even comment on Adande’s remark. In fact, ESPN promoted the segment on Twitter. It’s called free speech.

Failed TV and Radio Host Bomani Jones

The network felt that Steele put the company in a bad position following her comments. Well, she should have instead called all white people racist, like her colleague Bomani Jones.

“I just don’t know why people try to make this far more complex than it is,” Jones said about America and professional sports. “What’s the problem? White people.”

What’s more, Jones tanking both ESPN television and radio to all-time lows in the ratings is far more egregious than anything Steele has said.

Maria Taylor

ESPN offered Maria Taylor a 200% pay increase last summer after she tried to extort money from the company by leaking a privately recorded phone call of Rachel Nichols discussing diversity at ESPN.

ESPN begged Taylor to re-sign, even though she held onto the Nichols call for over a year and falsely accused its social team of sexism and made life hell for her co-workers.

But Sage Steele is the bad teammate at ESPN. Got it.


Sage Steele has a point. ESPN selectively chooses when to allow employees to exercise free speech and criticize the company. And for some reason, Steele is not allowed to do either, while her many colleagues are.

Get ’em, Sage.

Written by Bobby Burack

Bobby Burack is a writer for OutKick where he reports and analyzes the latest media topics as well as trending sports, cultural and political stories.

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

Previously, Burack was a writer at The Big Lead where he covered similar topics. He also hosted an eponymous podcast where he interviewed several personalities such as Joe Tessitore, and Adam Schefter.


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  1. I realize this will get me lumped in with the resident troll, but when I call Bobby a hack I really don’t see anyone arguing against that point. It’s the same criticisms against the same Fox News approved targets every fucking day. Sometimes it’s the same story with the words changed around. Pure trash.

    This is exactly what everyone was afraid of when Clay sold Outkick. Corporate approved opinions from shitty “journalists”.

  2. I still think ESPN is doomed, without this BS…

    ESPN is a losing game. I’d rather hear Eli Gold calling the BAMA games rather than some schmuck form ESPN/CBS/etc. I’m sure EVERYONE here would rather hear the “radio guy” form their fav team while watching their fav team (which is why the have a “delay” between radio and TV). All you need is the the SEC or the B1G to say: “hey, this is OUR MONEY!” ESPN latched onto the SEC Network to keep this from happening, but IT’S GONNA happen when Leagues and Teams start realizing they can keep ALL the revenue they lose to ESPN (or other “networks”) and ink their own deals with Budweiser, Geico, Progressive, et al.

    It’s OVER for ESPN.

    • Looking forward to that, good thought…. This is maybe like the music business, the fat cats were in control at one time, but not anymore.

      Told my investment lady to look at investment opportunities with antenna TV, no reason it couldn’t piggyback on cell towers and reach everyone, a good campaign contribution would bring .guv overreach mandating the cell providers share their towers.

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