In the aftermath of the deadly attack in Charlottesville, Va., ESPN made a decision to remove one of its announcers from calling a University of Virginia football game. The reason?
His name is Robert Lee.
Lee, who is an Asian-American sportscaster, was pulled from the game “simply because of the coincidence of his name,” ESPN said, referencing the Confederate general Robert E. Lee.
On Aug. 12, violence broke out after leftists attacked an Alt-Right group protesting the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue in Charlottesville. A lone driver ultimately used his car as a weapon by driving into a crowd of counter-protesters blocking the road, killing one woman and injuring more than a dozen other people.
After the violence in Charlottesville, which left one person dead, ESPN executives and Mr. Lee decided that for his safety it would be best to have him to work on a different game that Saturday, a network spokesman said.
Robert Lee’s full-time job is at a payroll services company in Albany. He started announcing games for ESPN and its other networks last fall, according to his LinkedIn page. For the past 17 years, he has also announced men’s basketball games for Siena College in Albany.
ESPN, which is infamous for their liberal bias that some observers believe has led to a drop in viewership, said it moved its announcer to the Youngstown State game at Pittsburgh.
The network’s full statement:
“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. 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.”
ESPN defended their actions, saying announcers are moved between games all the time.