Sage Steele, the veteran sportscaster who recently left ESPN after settling a lawsuit with the sports media giant, has accused 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 on an episode of “The Megyn Kelly Show” 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 continued, “Some of the producers saw it. Whoopi saw it. 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 created, produced and co-hosted “The View” for 17 seasons, from 1997 to 2014. She remained an executive producer on the ABC daytime talk show until her death in 2022.
Steele, who joined ESPN in 2007 as a television anchor on “SportsCenter,” was suspended by the Disney-owned network in 2021 for comments she made on the “Uncut With Jay Cutler” podcast about COVID-19 vaccinations, how women dress and former President Barack Obama’s racial identity.
She alleged in a 2022 lawsuit that Disney and ESPN retaliated against her for the comments she made on the outside podcast by taking away high-profile assignments. She indicated that the companies had breached her contract and violated her free-speech rights.
“Having successfully settled my case with ESPN/Disney, I have decided to leave so I can exercise my first amendment rights more freely,” Steele said in a statement on Tuesday. “I am grateful for so many wonderful experiences over the past 16 years and am excited for my next chapter!”
Representatives for Steele, Goldberg, “The View” and the Walters estate did not immediately respond to Variety‘s request for comment.