Let me just say right off the bat that I really didn’t even want to talk about this story, but now that it’s blowing up on social media I suppose it is what it is. ESPN has managed to put their internal liberal bias on display all too often lately, and the results have been rather disastrous in terms of their ratings and overall business model. But when it came time to prepare for the football game between the University of Virginia and William and Mary, they really established a new gold standard in stupidity. As the Washington Times reports, one of their announcers was pulled from duty because of his “offensive name.” That announcer was Robert Lee.
According to the popular college-football blog Outkick the Coverage, ESPN pulled an Asian announcer from calling a University of Virginia football game. The announcer’s name is Robert Lee.
“Did I mention that Robert Lee is Asian?” blogger Clay Travis asked rhetorically in a post that poured scorn over the popular sports network for political correctness, calling it “MSESPN.”
Citing “multiple Outkick fans inside ESPN,” Mr. Travis said Mr. Lee was pulled from the Cavaliers Sept. 2 game in Charlottesville against William and Mary “because they were concerned that having an ASIAN FOOTBALL ANNOUNCER NAMED ROBERT LEE would be offensive to some viewers.”
The blog which broke the story had the original report here. The response from (mostly conservative) social media was swift and brutal.
If this ESPN story is real (and it's looking more and more like it is) isn't the network more PC than Oberlin at this point?
— David French (@DavidAFrench) August 23, 2017
ESPN did this out of fear of the yowling mob. And is part of it now.
— John Podhoretz (@jpodhoretz) August 23, 2017
The stupid. It hurts us, precious. Our friend Gary Gross at the Let Freedom Ring blog invoked an old standard which may summarize this best. “There’s no sense making something idiot-proof. They’ll just build a better idiot.”
The saddest part of all this is that it’s a completely self-inflicted wound on the part of ESPN. They not only have (or perhaps more accurately “had”) the perfect excuse for staying out of the political minefield, but by definition they can claim a corporate mandate to do so. If you run any sort of general news outfit, subjects like the confederate monument flap are hard to dodge. It’s up to management as to how much spin they put on it and in which direction. But ESPN was never a “general news” outlet. It says it right in their name. Their mandate is to cover sports.
They could have skipped this entirely and nobody would have had a reason to carp over it. If I’m looking for the latest news on the collapse of Venezuela I don’t go to the NFL Network. And if I was stupid enough to do so I’d have no right to complain to them over their lack of coverage.
One or two incidents might have been the result of individual broadcast personalities going off the rails and might be overlooked. But now the list of questionable occurrences has grown long enough to draw some conclusions. ESPN is a liberal leaning network with some built-in bias which runs from the top down. And it’s such an incredibly bad business decision. Their mandate, as I said above, is to cover sports. Everyone loves sports! (Okay.. not everyone, but enough of the country to make a network rich beyond the dreams of avarice.) And it’s entertainment which crosses political, ideological lines. When you decide to stake yourself out as being on one “team” or the the other in the American Game of Thrones, you risk losing half your audience.