WTF! ESPN Pulls an ASIAN Announcer off the Air Because His Name Is Robert Lee

Posted by moku 11 months ago in News
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You see a story like “ESPN pulls broadcaster Robert Lee off Virginia game because of his name,” and you’ve got to react, right? No way you let something as absurd as that pass. Take just a moment, though, and look at this from more than one angle.

I’ll admit it, I thought the story about Lee and the University of Virginia that broke Tuesday night was a troll job. Fake news, to coin a phrase. (Fake in the “non-factual” sense, of course, not “news I don’t like so I’ll call it fake.”) The story first appeared on Outkick the Coverage, which has a reputation for anti-ESPN provocation, and rocketed around the web. Political correctness? Civil War reverberations? Left-wing ESPN? Oversensitive liberals? Hell, the story sounded like it was built in a conservative-media lab.

Sure enough, though, it turned out to be true. Lee, a broadcaster who calls about a dozen ESPN college football and basketball games a year, per the New York Times, would be reassigned—and reassigned only because of his name.

You can react to the story however you wish, and chances are that most of you who read the headline aren’t even reading this; you’ve headed right on down to fire off your opinion in the comments below. But for the rest of us, there are three possibilities to consider here:

1. ESPN executives are bending the knee at the altar of political correctness, advancing their left-wing agenda by removing anything that might possibly offend aggrieved special-interest groups. This is the preferred argument of conservative publications, though it loses a bit of heft when you remember that ESPN didn’t actually announce or seek praise for this change.

2. ESPN is trying to spare Lee embarrassment or harassment. Yes, anyone named “Robert Lee” who gets within five states of the Mason-Dixon Line is in for a few jokes and jabs. And you can understand why ESPN might not want a young broadcaster to draw the abuse that spews out of Twitter. But unless Lee was planning to broadcast the game in full Confederate regalia, social media would’ve moved on in less than a quarter. Plus, best I can tell, there are no demands for people sharing the same monikers as Civil War generals to change their own names.

3. ESPN tried to avoid any possible offense, and in so doing ended up lighting its own feet on fire. Look, the tragedy in Charlottesville remains horrible beyond measure. And ESPN has demonstrated countless times that its journalists have the skill and sensitivity to put sports in their proper perspective relative to tragedy. This isn’t that. Very best-case—and most likely—scenario, this was a quick-fix personnel decision that backfired like starting a grill with lighter fluid (with, of course, the matches provided by people with an interest in making ESPN look bad).

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