ESPN personality ignites controversy with comments on Barack Obama and race

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ESPN presenter Sage Steele faces an overwhelming backlash after making controversial comments on a podcast over the weekend, including criticizing former President Obama’s responses to the census and the clothes he was wearing. wear women journalists.

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Tuesday, the cable sports channel hanging Steele from her regular noon “Sportscenter” slot for a week and removed her as a host for the 2021 “espnW: Women + Sports Summit”, which will take place from October 18 to 20.

On the Podcast “Uncut with Jay Cutler”guest Steele said it was “fascinating” that Obama chose an African American when he filled out his 2010 census form, adding that Obama was raised by his mother and grandmother white, and not by his father.

Steele was talking about a previous TV interview when she was “ripped off” for identifying as biracial. Steele told the story, saying that one of the TV hosts asked, “If they make you choose a race, what are you going to put on?”, To which she replied, “Well, both . “


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Steele herself is a mixed black and Irish / Italian woman.

The host then told him that you had to choose one on the census form and that Obama had selected African American on his.

In recounting the exchange, Steele downplayed Obama’s blackness for being raised by a white mother and grandmother.

“I’m like, ‘Well, congratulations to the president, that’s his thing,’ she said. “White mothers raised him, but okay. You do you. I will do myself.”

“Look, I’m pretty sure my white mother was there when I was born. And my white family loves me as much as my black family, ”she added.

The conversation also turned to female journalists and Steele’s experience in sports journalism. She told Cutler that she turned down requests from women asking her for advice and help in the industry because she didn’t want to associate with reporters she saw as presenting themselves too sexualized.

Steele added that women should wear different clothes to avoid harassment.

“When you dress like this, I’m not saying you deserve the rude comments, but you also know what you’re doing when you put on this outfit,” Steele said. “Like, women are smart so don’t be shy and put it all on guys.”

In his 1995 memoirs, Dreams of my Father, Obama, who spent time with his stepfather in Indonesia from 1967 to 1971, wrote about his relationship with his father and the impact of his absence growing up, BET reported. Obama’s father died at the age of 48, around the time Obama was 21.

ESPN issued a statement, saying: “At ESPN, we take different points of view – dialogue and discussion make this place great. That said, we expect these views to be expressed with respect, in a manner consistent with our values ​​and in accordance with our internal policies. “

Steele would have sent an apology to ESPN, according to sports reporter John Ourand.

“I know my recent comments have created some controversy for the company, and I apologize for that,” Steele reportedly wrote. “We are in the midst of an extremely difficult time that affects us all, and it is more important than ever that we communicate in a constructive and thoughtful manner.”

Several current and former ESPN presenters condemned Steele’s comments. Cari Champion tweeted, ” The sigh. My dad wasn’t around when I was younger. I am still black.

Sarah Spain tweeted: “A reminder to women journalists – and women around the world – that what you wear should have no effect on your safety at work.

Jemele Hill also wrote: “So in addition to thinking that former President Obama shouldn’t identify as black because he didn’t have a relationship with his black father, Sage Steele also believes that women journalists who dress a certain way “know what you’re doing when you put on that outfit.”

“Clown behavior.” Hill tweeted.


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