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In October, a Connecticut superior court dismissed anchor Sage Steele’s lawsuit against the Walt Disney Co.
But quietly over the holidays, the same judge vacated his ruling that Steele hasn’t established personal jurisdiction in Connecticut court to sue California-based Disney, the parent company of the Connecticut-based ESPN, the network at which Steele hosts.
“Walt Disney Co. is again facing claims by ESPN sportscaster Sage Steele over discipline she received for remarks made on a podcast,” reports Bloomberg Law.
Connecticut Superior Court Judge James Sicilian on [December 21] granted Steele’s motion for reconsideration of his Oct. 12 order “dismissing the claims against Disney.”
Note: the jurisdiction for her claims against ESPN — differentiated from Disney — was not up for dispute.
In April, Steele filed a lawsuit against ESPN and its parent company alleging the network retaliated against her for exercising her free speech rights — a claim hardly disputable.
The issue emanates from a podcast episode from September 2021, in which Steele appeared with former NFL quarterback Jay Cutler and questioned Disney forcing employees to receive the Covid-19 vaccine.
“I respect everyone’s decision, I really do, but to mandate it is sick and it’s scary to me in many ways. I just, I’m not surprised it got to this point, especially with Disney, I mean a global company like that,” Steele told Cutler.
Later, Steele, who is biracial, commented on the U.S. Census asking her to mark a race.
“If they make [me] choose a race, I go, ‘both,’” she said. “Barack Obama chose black and he’s biracial.’ And I’m like, ‘Congratulations to the president. That’s his thing.’ I think that’s fascinating considering his black dad was nowhere to be found and his white mom and grandma raised him, but hey, you do you. I’m gonna do me.”
Her comments prompted a negative reaction from Steele’s former, bitter colleagues like Keith Olbermann, Longtime Victim Cari Champion, and Jemele Hill. As well as her current colleagues like Ryan Clark, who refused to appear on set with Steele, and deranged leftwing lunatic Nicole Briscoe.
The lawsuit, which you can read in full below, mentions the latter two characters.
Ultimately, ESPN responded to the pressure and suspended Steele — the network used euphemisms to describe the word “suspension” — and forced her to issue an apology.
ESPN’s not-so-impressive PR team led by Chris La Placa and Josh Krulewitz also released a statement condemning Steele’s comments at the time:
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 PR still has not commented on Mark Jones spreading racism on Twitter.)
Additionally, the Wall Street Journal reported in April that ESPN “retaliated by taking away prime assignments and failing to stop bullying and harassment by Ms. Steele’s colleagues.”
In essence, ESPN punished Steele, its only openly conservative talent, for voicing an opinion that ran a foul to the non-sports opinions it allows other anchors to express.
The company used selective enforcement of its supposed ban on talking politics. Such a claim is evident by the disparate handling of other talents who have voiced far more political and controversial opinions than Steele. We compiled a list at the time, exposing the hypocrisy in the reaction to Steele’s rather benign commentary.
ESPN suspended Steele for questioning an unjust mandate and opposing declaring her opposition to the language in the U.S. Census.
Yet ESPN allowed the following:
— Jemele Hill to call then-President Donald Trump a “white supremacist.”
— Howard Bryant to falsely accuse ESPN of racism for its cast of pregame analysts. Spoiler: there are far more black people on set.
— Mark Jones to lie, baselessly accuse police of an attempt to murder, calling Stephen A. Smith a “coon,” rooting for players’ injuries.
— Elle Duncan asking fathers to speak up so their daughters can have abortions in all 50 states.
— Malika Andrews opining on abortions on air, a topic that clearly confuses her.
— J.A. Adande comparing red state voting laws to genocide in China.
The list of other examples goes on and on, and on.
You get the point.
ESPN punished Sage Steele for being an outspoken inconvenient conservative voice, an independent mind.
The company retaliated against her for exercising her free speech rights, while allowing others to run amok around its disciplinary policies.