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Pushback: Sports anchor sues ESPN for punishing her for expressing opinions on her own time

ESPN: Proud censor of free speech
ESPN: Proud censor of free speech

They’re coming for you next: Sports anchor Sage Steele last week filed a lawsuit against her employer ESPN for punishing her in 2021 when she expressed strong public reservations — on her own time — about the company’s mandates requiring employees to get COVID shots and boosters or lose their jobs.

In comments last September on a podcast hosted by former National Football League quarterback Jay Cutler, Ms. Steele touched on political and social topics, questioning Covid-19 vaccine mandates and former President Barack Obama’s decision to identify as Black instead of biracial.

After Ms. Steele’s remarks drew criticism in the press and on social media, ESPN forced her to issue an apology and temporarily benched her, according to the suit, which was served in Connecticut, where the network is based. ESPN also retaliated by taking away prime assignments and failing to stop bullying and harassment by Ms. Steele’s colleagues, the suit alleges.

The complaint says ESPN’s handling of Ms. Steele’s situation was an example of selective enforcement of a network policy that bars news personnel from taking positions on political or social issues. ESPN has “violated Connecticut law and Steele’s rights to free speech based upon a faulty understanding of her comments and a nonexistent, unenforced workplace policy that serves as nothing more than pretext,” according to the suit, which seeks unspecified damages.

You can read the lawsuit here [pdf]. It cites numerous examples of other ESPN anchors making public very partisan political statements, on air and while working for ESPN, with no consequences. It also describes in detail the network’s ugly treatment of her– including taking her off prime assignments and forcing her to issue an apology she did not write — all based on this kind of non-research:

On the evening of Sunday, October 3, 2021, while she was quarantined, Steele was contacted by Rosetta Ellis, the head of the ESPN talent department, who began the conversation by asking whether Steele was “okay,” apparently referring to her mental state. Ellis then asked Steele questions about Steele’s comments on the podcast. When Steele asked Ellis if she had listened to the podcast, Ellis admitted she had not.

…The day before Steele’s return to broadcasting, she had a conversation with Jill Fredrickson, senior vice president of SportsCenter, who said that some of Steele’s coworkers were “hurt” by her comments on the podcast (though Steele later learned that Fredrickson had been fishing for this response by asking employees directly if they were hurt). When Steele asked Fredrickson if she had listened to the podcast, Fredrickson demurred, saying the podcast was too long. [emphasis mine]

No need to review the evidence. Steele was obviously guilty because she didn’t bow to the left’s narrative on COVID and racial politics, and must therefore be punished!

The lawsuit also documents the malfeasance of the mainstream press, which repeatedly either misquoted what Steele had said, took it out of context, or simply slandered her.

According to the lawsuit, ESPN violated numerous state laws as well as its contract with Steele. Whether Steele can win however is unknown. Though it is clear she was punished for daring to express wrong-think — not kow-towing to the leftist narrative about both the COVID shots or its modern belief that any criticism of any minority is racist — the evidence against the network is vague enough that it might not stand up in court.

The biggest irony of this story however is that though Steele had reluctantly complied with the company’s COVID shot mandates, getting the jab plus booster when required, she still got COVID. Advocates of the shots have repeatedly claimed that these jabs protect you from COVID. Steele’s experience is just another example of many showing that this claim is not only wrong, it is a lie.

Conscious Choice cover

Now available in hardback and paperback as well as ebook!

 

From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

 
Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.

 

“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.

 

All editions are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all book vendors, with the ebook priced at $5.99 before discount. The ebook can also be purchased direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit, in which case you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.

 

Autographed printed copies are also available at discount directly from me (hardback $24.95; paperback $14.95; Shipping cost for either: $5.00). Just email me at zimmerman @ nasw dot org.

2 comments

  • GaryMike

    Such things make future hiring decisions, and Last-Will-in-Testament decisions, exceedingly easy to make. Naming just two ways to “filter” transactions between expectant people and the unimpressed ones.

    Historically; competition between those who “want access to the water hole, and those wielding rocks”.

    Clark & Kubrick weren’t the very first to notice.

  • BLSinSC

    I only watch espn for College Football – everything else is simply LEFTIST propaganda! I hope she wins and whoever punished her is FIRED!

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