Sage Steele Sage Steele

Does the Variety social media team know something about Sage Steele’s future at ESPN that’s not in their actual reporting? The magazine put out a story Tuesday on Steele’s ongoing lawsuit against the network, headlined “ESPN Anchor and Vaccine Skeptic Sage Steele’s Free Speech Battle With Disney Heats Up.” But the way they initially presented it on social media had Steele no longer with ESPN.

The story itself is largely a recapping of Steele’s lawsuit (which was filed last April, citing the company’s reaction to her vaccine mandate comments on Jay Cutler’s podcast), opinions from various lawyers (including Steele’s lawyer Bryan Freedman, who also represents Tucker Carlson and Don Lemon), comparisons of this to Disney’s own ongoing legal fight with Ron DeSantis and the Florida government, and a discussion of how Steele and ESPN are currently in mediation (with that window closing on June 12). But on both Twitter and Facebook, Variety‘s initial posts (deleted on Twitter after 90-plus minutes, still live on Facebook more than two hours later) called Steele a “former ESPN anchor,” which is not the case at this point (she was even hosting SportsCenter as usual on the network Tuesday):

A Variety tweet calling Sage Steele a "former ESPN anchor."

Mistakes happen, of course. And this one was corrected (at least on Twitter), where Variety‘s subsequent tweets on this correctly identified Steele’s current status:

But this is certainly an interesting mistake, and it maybe adds even more to the conversation about Steele (seen above in 2019) potentially leaving ESPN. As has been repeatedly noted with her lawsuit, it’s quite unusual to see a current employee taking legal action against their network, with those suits more frequently coming from former employees. And Steele has continued to receive prominent on-air assignments despite the lawsuit. (On that front, she claims in the suit that some assignments she was pulled from after her comments represented punishment, with ESPN responding by saying that’s not punishment without docked pay, and airtime is a protected “casting decision“; we’ll see how that lawsuit is resolved, but Steele is certainly getting a lot of ESPN airtime at the moment.) But it’s certainly possible to see these sides parting ways, and the Variety social media posts here maybe add to that discussion even more, even if they were just innocent mistakes.


About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.