Saturday, 18 January, 2020

ESPN reassigns announcer Robert Lee from Charlottesville game

ESPN reassigns announcer Robert Lee from Charlottesville game ESPN reassigns announcer Robert Lee from Charlottesville game
Christy Curtis | 25 August, 2017, 01:11

ESPN has switched announcer Robert Lee off of its broadcast of the University of Virginia's first football game of the season next month, owing to what the network said was "the coincidence of his name".

ESPN earlier released a formal statement explaining that due to the violence in Charlottesville, they felt it was the right decision.

It descended into violent street brawls and one woman was killed when a auto ploughed through a crowd of counter-protesters.

In the days following the incident, President Trump made a number of controversial comments including his statement that monuments to Confederate general Robert E. Lee should not be removed from public life.

Few people probably knew ESPN would be covering the University of Virginia's opening game against William & Mary on September 2 in Charlottesville.

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ESPN said they approached Lee as events in Charlottesville were unfolding and saw moving him to a different game as a way to avoid the sports anchor becoming a meme or punchline. He will instead announce the Youngstown State vs. University of Pittsburgh match-up. But the similarity of his name to the Confederate general Robert E. Lee in the wake of the Charlottesville protest, in which one person was killed by an alleged white supremacist, was considered a controversial circumstance for the cable channel.

ESPN certainly has an issue on its hands, but it's hard to say whether the decision was right or wrong because it ultimately was up to Lee, who reportedly felt more comfortable making the switch. Just imagine the potential ribbing you would have gotten if a guy named Robert Lee called a football game in Virginia.

Robert Lee became a trending topic on Twitter overnight as the network's decision was widely met with criticism.

This would never have been an issue at all, except for the fact that it was leaked to Clay Travis of Outkick the Coverage, who frequently critiques ESPN and has accused the company of having a liberal bias. Sopan Deb, a culture writer at the New York Times joked, "I wish Skip Bayless was named Robert Lee while he was at ESPN".

The network came to the decision after a white supremacist rally protesting Charlottesville's planned removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee turned violent, culminating in a man driving his vehicle into a group demonstrating against the neo-Nazis and killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer.

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