‘Rage in My Belly’: Sage Steele Reveals the Full Backstory on Her Scripted ESPN Interview with Joe Biden

AP Photo/Chris Pizzello

There have always been questions about media bias – especially when it comes to politics – but that doesn’t make instances of it any less surprising.

Former ESPN anchor Sage Steele made headlines last week when she revealed that the so-called worldwide leader in sports basically scripted her 2021 interview with President Joe Biden.

On Tuesday’s show, Megyn was joined by Steele to discuss the full backstory of the incident and why she is choosing to speak openly about it now.

The Interview

During a sit-down with Fox News Digital last week to promote her new podcast, The Sage Steele Show, Steele recalled the “structured” nature of her March 2021 interview with Biden.

She alleged that the higher ups at ESPN handed her a “script” to use for the taped conversation and follow-up questions were out of the question. “That was an interesting experience in its own right because it was so structured,” Steele told Fox News Digital. “And I was told, ‘You will say every word that we write out, you will not deviate from the script and go.’” 

The interview got attention at the time because Biden said he supported Major League Baseball’s decision to move its annual All-Star Game out of Atlanta due to controversy surrounding Georgia’s election reform law. Steele also asked some questions about sporting events attempting to run to ‘normal’ amid the COVID-19 pandemic and whether or not players should be forced to be vaccinated. 

The exact wording of those inquiries, according to Steele, came from ESPN execs. “To the word, every single question was scripted, gone over dozens of times by many editors and executives,” she told the outlet. “I was on script and was told not to deviate. It was very much, ‘This is what you will ask. This is how you will say it. No follow-ups, no follow-ups. Next.'”

While Steele told Fox News Digital she did not have direct knowledge of whether or ESPN shared the questions with the White House ahead of time, she said she was willing to bet that is “what happened.”

The Backstory

Megyn played a montage of the questions Steele asked Biden, which included a bit about First Lady Jill Biden’s interest in Philadelphia sports. Steele referred to her as “First Lady Dr. Jill Biden,” which she said was part of the script. “I wouldn’t have said ‘doctor,'” she confirmed to Megyn.

Despite some members of the media claiming they never would have taken orders from their bosses about how to handle a interview, Steele said she has no regrets. “I don’t know that I would have done anything differently because you have to know which battles to choose,” she shared. “I had already chosen a couple of battles along the way.”

As Steele explained it, she was approached with the opportunity – and the conditions. “It was, ‘Do you want to interview the sitting president of the United States or not?’ ‘And if you want to, then these are the questions and we will get back to you with what you will be saying,'” she recalled. “So, I took the opportunity and said, ‘Okay, I’m going to do it and take my orders.’ And I don’t know that I would change anything that I did at that moment.”

‘Rage in My Belly’

Steele shared that she ended up being frustrated with the interview from the jump when she realized she would not be able to press Biden on his answer to her question on the MLB All-Star Game.

STEELE: Tony Clark is the executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association. He said he would, quote, ‘look forward to discussing moving the All-Star Game out of Atlanta because Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed into law a bill passed by the Republican-led state legislature to overhaul how its state elections are run.’ So, Mr. President, what do you think about the possibility that baseball decides to move their All-Star Game out of Atlanta because of this political issue?

BIDEN: I think today’s professional athletes are acting incredibly responsibly. I would strongly support them doing this… The very people who are victimized the most are the people who are the leaders in these, in these various sports, and it’s just not right. This is Jim Crow on steroids, what they’re doing in Georgia and 40 other states. What is it all about? Imagine passing a law saying you cannot provide water or food for someone standing in line to vote?

Steele said she was sitting there listening to Biden’s response with “rage in my belly” as she mentally formulated the follow-up question she was not allowed to ask. “I’m saying, ‘What do you mean passing laws against giving water to people? It goes all back to: What? Do you think that because of the color of my skin I’m not smart enough to remember to bring my driver’s license or to actually go get one in the first place,'” she asked. “Because to me, what all this talk leads to is racism, basically, for people like me who apparently need assistance to do basic things in life. That was the first question, I think, and that’s what I wanted to follow up with.” 

The Moral of the Story

While Steele admitted she “would have loved to be able to really follow up” with the president and “be a journalist,” she said this story is really about the viewers. “It’s not about oh woe is me… I am more than fine and I am grateful for every moment at ESPN, even that one,” she said. “I want people in an election year to understand the control that the mainstream media has… If we’re controlling things at a sports network, what are we doing at news networks?”

ESPN declined to comment to The Megyn Kelly Show about Steele’s allegations, and the newly minted podcast host said she went public with the story because of the state of politics today. “I just want people to know and to be careful as we enter this election cycle,” she concluded. “Do your homework. Dig deeper. Don’t believe everything that you watch, especially on those networks.”

You can check out Megyn’s full interview with Steele by tuning in to episode 761 on YouTube, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you like to listen. And don’t forget that you can catch The Megyn Kelly Show live on SiriusXM’s Triumph (channel 111) weekdays from 12pm to 2pm ET.