Sage Steele Claims Barbara Walters Shoved Her Into a Wall at "The View"
The former ESPN anchor says it happened after a tense segment about Barack Obama.
Though she is considered a broadcasting legend, the late Barbara Walters was not immune to criticism. The journalist, who died in 2022, has been called out controversial and invasive interviews, and her former colleagues have also addressed some offensive behavior. And now, one fellow reporter has made a different sort of accusation about the TV icon. In a new interview with The Megyn Kelly Show, former ESPN host Sage Steele said that Walters physically attacked her backstage when she was a guest on The View. She claimed that the talk show co-creator pushed her into a wall and a trash can.
Steele said that the altercation occurred after she and Walters got into a heated discussion on The View about former President Barack Obama. Read on to find out what happened between them on the air and what the sports reporter alleges happened in the greenroom afterwards.
Steele told Kelly that Walters assaulted her.
During Steele's Aug. 17 appearance on her show, Megyn Kelly said to her guest, "If I don't ask you about Barbara Walters—she attacked you? Wait, what?" Steele laughed and responded, "It was right after that segment, the Obama segment." Walters and Steele got into a tense discussion about the then-President during one of Steele's 2014 appearances on The View.
"It was Barbara, Whoopi [Goldberg], and myself in the dark greenroom off to the side," the 50-year-old anchor said. "I was probably four feet from the wall and the trash can, and Barbara was standing over here in front of me, and she just started to back up towards 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.'"
She also said that Goldberg comforted her.
Steele claimed that there were witnesses to this alleged attack, and that another co-host spoke to her afterward.
"Some of the producers saw it," Steele went on. "Whoopi saw it, and Whoopi was like, 'Come here.' And she was great. And she pulled me aside in her little area, and she's like, 'Don't you let her do it.' I'm like, am I in a movie right now? One of the legends in this industry just tried to beat me up!"
Walters' estate made a statement.
After Steele's interview with Kelly went public, Walters' estate commented on her story. "I find this impossible to believe and uncharacteristic of Barbara!" a representative told Variety.
Best Life has reached out to representatives for both Goldberg and The View.
For more celebrity news delivered right to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
She recapped the conversation that led to the alleged confrontation.
Steele looked back on that controversial conversation she had on The View during a September 2021 appearance on Uncut with Jay Cutler.
As reported by CNBC, Steele said that Walters questioned her about identifying as biracial—Steele is half Black and half white—while Obama identifies as Black.
"She's like, 'Well what happens when you … fill out your Census?'" Steele said Walters asked. "If they make you choose a race, she's like, 'What are you gonna put?' I go 'Well, both.'"
Steele faced backlash for other comments she made on the topic, including suggesting that Obama shouldn't identify as Black, because he was raised by his white mother.
"'Barack Obama chose Black, and he's biracial,'" Steele said Walters said, "And I'm like, well, congratulations to the president, that's his thing. I think that's fascinating considering his Black dad was nowhere to be found but his white mom and grandma raised him. But hey, you do you, I'm gonna do me."
ESPN issued a statement condemning other comments she made on the podcast.
Steele's appearance on Uncut with Jay Cutler had far-reaching effects. On the same episode, she called the vaccine mandate that was required at ESPN (which is owned by Disney) "sick." She also made offensive comments about how women dress in the workplace. "When you dress like that, I'm not saying you deserve the gross comments, but you know what you're doing when you put that outfit on too," Steele said. "We need to be responsible as women too. We know what we're doing when we put certain things on."
As reported by CNBC, ESPN issued a statement in response. "At ESPN, we embrace different points of view—dialogue and discussion makes this place great," it reads. "That said, we expect that those points of view be expressed respectfully, in a manner consistent with our values, and in line with our internal policies."
"I know my recent comments created controversy for the company, and I apologize," Steele said in her own subsequent statement. "We are in the midst of an extremely challenging time that impacts all of us, and it's more critical than ever that we communicate constructively and thoughtfully."
She sued the network.
As reported by NBC News, in April 2022, Steele sued ESPN claiming that she was "sidelined" due to what she said on Cutler's podcast. "In a knee-jerk reaction, ESPN and Disney relied on the misleading characterizations of her comments, bowed to groupthink and forced Steele to publicly apologize and suspended her for a period of time in October 2021," the lawsuit read. ESPN denied that Steele was suspended.
On Aug. 15, it was reported that the lawsuit had been settled and that Steele had left ESPN. "Life update. Having successfully settled my case with ESPN/Disney, I have decided to leave so I can exercise my first amendment rights more freely," she tweeted. "I am grateful for so many wonderful experiences over the past 16 years and am excited for my next chapter!"
ESPN said in a statement that the reporter and network "mutually agreed to part ways."