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ESPN Removes Asian-American Host Robert Lee Because He Shares Name with Confederate General
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Summary: ESPN worried that the internet would mock their host, Robert Lee, if he announced at a University of Virginia football game.

After the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, companies and individuals have taken sides in the controversy, most choosing to distance themselves from neo-Nazis and the KKK. ESPN is one of those companies, but did their move to show their non-bigoted stance go too far?

According to Fox News, ESPN pulled one of its announcers from a September 2 University of Virginia football game because his name is Robert Lee, the same name of the legendary Confederate general, Robert E. Lee. The irony of the situation is that Lee is Asian-American, has no ties to white supremacy, and has a very common name for an Asian man.

  
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ESPN said that reassignments happen all the time, and that they moved Lee to another game “simply because of the coincidence of his name” to Confederate General Robert E. Lee.

“We collectively made the decision with Robert to switch games as the tragic events in Charlottesville were unfolding, simply because of the coincidence of his name,” ESPN said. “In that moment it felt right to all parties. It’s a shame that this is even a topic of conversation and we regret that who calls play-by-play for a football game has become an issue.”

On August 12, hundreds of white nationalists arrived in Charlottesville to protest the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue in town. Counter-protestors showed up to protest their protest, and on Saturday, things turned deadly when a domestic terrorist drove a car into the counter-protestors, injuring 19 and killing one woman.

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In response to the tragedy, ESPN seemingly wanted to avoid an embarrassment but in turn embarrassed itself. The game has not yet happened, but the leak of the host switch came out on Tuesday and has already been met with ire from conservatives frustrated with political correctness and liberals who saw no need to punish an Asian-American host for having a common name.

Website Outkick the Coverage broke the story with the headline “MSESPN Pulls Asian Announcer Named Robert Lee Off UVA Game To Avoid Offending Idiots.” The site called ESPN “MSESPN” to make fun of its allegedly liberal bias, similar to the shows on MSNBC.



In response to the news, former Republican governor Mike Huckabee joked on Twitter, “ESPN will no longer air football games on TV as referees are dressed in black and white and that could be viewed as binary racism.”

According to CNN, network executives worried that Robert Lee hosting a Virginia game would inspire internet memes and wanted to move him in order to protect him from ridicule. But as ESPN has learned, the Streisand Effect is real.

What do you think of ESPN’s decision to move Robert Lee to a different broadcast? Let us know in the comments below.



 

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