Former ESPN anchor Sage Steele is alleging that the late broadcast journalist Barbara Walters elbowed her backstage at The View.
The veteran sportscaster appeared on a recent episode of The Megyn Kelly Show where she accused The View creator of assaulting her following a segment about former U.S. President Barack Obama, while also discussing her controversial departure from ESPN. During the conversation, Steele stated that there were other witnesses to the alleged physical altercation prompted by Walters, who was the creator as well as a co-host and producer on the show for more than 15 years and passed away in 2022.
“It was Barbara, Whoopi [Goldberg] and myself in the dark green room off to the side,” Steele recalled during the podcast episode, which released 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.”
Steele goes on to describe Walters’ movements, saying that she began to “back up toward me and looked at me and got close and elbowed me.” She added that the physical contact “pushed me back into the wall and the trash can,” leaving Steele to wonder what Walters had just done.
“This 140-year-old woman just tried to tackle me,” the former SportsCenter co-host 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!”
In a statement, a rep for Walters’ estate told The Hollywood Reporter, “This is impossible to believe and uncharacteristic of Barbara!”
THR has reached out to reps Whoopi Goldberg and The View.
Steele also discussed her recent departure from the network, just days after settling a lawsuit against ESPN, in which she alleged the company had retaliated against her and infringed upon her free speech rights after she made controversial statements regarding its COVID vaccination requirement and, separately, questioned Obama’s race while appearing on the “Uncut with Jay Cutler” podcast in 2021.
Steele shared that despite departing ESPN, she “loved” her more than two years on SportsCenter, and called her former producers and co-host Matt Barrie “the best team.” But said that “there were different rules for me than everyone else” who shared their personal opinions on either the network or on other platforms.
Steele settled the suit with ESPN, it was announced on Tuesday, saying in a statement on X/Twitter, “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!”
5: 15 p.m. Updated with the statement from Barbara Walters’ estate.