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Ex-ESPN anchor Sage Steele alleges Barbara Walters ‘tried to beat me up’ on set of ‘The View’

Sports broadcaster Sage Steele is opening up about an alleged physical altercation with the late Barbara Walters.

Steele, who announced her departure from ESPN earlier this week after she “successfully settled” a lawsuit against the company over an alleged violation of her free-speech rights, claimed that Walters “tried to beat me up” on the set of “The View,” the ABC daytime talk show created by Walters.

“It was Barbara (Walters), Whoopi (Goldberg) and myself in the dark green room off to the side,” Steele said during an appearance on “The Megyn Kelly Show” on Thursday. “(Walters) 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?”

Steele, 50, added: “This 140-year-old woman just tried to like tackle me.’”Steele alleged the physical altercation happened in 2014 following a segment on “The View” where Walters challenged Steele’s biracial identity on-air and asked why she didn’t identify as Black, like former President Barack Obama. (Both Steele and Obama have white mothers and Black fathers).

“Some of the producers saw it. Whoopi saw it,” Steele said about the altercation with Walters. “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!”

ABC and “The View” didn’t immediately return USA TODAY Sports’ request for comment.Steele also made comments about Obama’s racial identity on “Uncut with Jay Cutler” podcast in 2021, saying it was “fascinating” he identified as Black even though his “Black dad was nowhere to be found.” She also criticized ESPN’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate and how some women dress.

Steele was subsequently placed on paid leave following her comments and later filed a lawsuit against ESPN and parent company Disney for violating her free-speech rights under the First Amendment.She announced Tuesday on social media that she had parted ways with ESPN, where she’s worked since 2007: “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. I am grateful for so many wonderful experiences over the past 16 years and am excited for my next chapter!”

Walters created “The View” in 1997, served as a co-host until 2014 and was an executive producer on the show until she died in December 2022 at the age of 93.

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