Sage Steele said earlier this week that she’s leaving ESPN in order to “exercise my first amendment rights more freely.” As part of that, she’s now accusing the late Barbara Walters of assaulting her backstage during an appearance on The View.
“It was Barbara, Whoopi [Goldberg], and myself in the dark green room off to the side,” Steele said during her appearance on The Megyn Kelly Show on Thursday. “I was probably about four feet from the wall and the trash can, and Barbara was standing over here in front of me. She just started to back up toward me and looked at me and got close and elbowed me, and it pushed me back into the wall and the trash can. I was like, ‘What did [she] just do to me? This 140-year-old woman just tried to like tackle me.’”
Steele says that the incident occurred after a segment about Barack Obama.
While she doesn’t specifically note when the appearance took place, Steele was part of the panel in February 2014 when the show discussed Obama’s universal health care plans. After Walters defends Obama’s attempts to achieve his healthcare goals, Steele pushes back on her.
“And maybe there is good reason. Maybe this is part of the proof why this is not the way to do it,” says Steele.
Steele made controversial comments about Obama’s Blackness on Jay Cutler’s podcast in October 2021. Following those comments, as well as comments about Disney’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate, she was taken off the air in a move she would later describe as a suspension in her free speech lawsuit against the company.
Steele added that Whoopi Goldberg and others saw the incident and consoled her.
“Some of the producers saw it. Whoopi saw it,” said Steele. “And Whoopi was like, ‘Come here.’ She was great. She pulled me aside in her little area and she’s like, ‘Don’t you let her do it.’ And I’m like, ‘Am I in a movie right now?’ One of the legends in this industry just tried to beat me up!”
Walters was the creator, producer, and co-host of The View between 1997 and 2014. She remained an executive producer on the daytime show until her death in 2022.