ESPN long ago made the terrible business decision to go full Social Justice Warrior, embracing everything hysterical and absurd promoted by that subculture and thus increasingly alienating at least half of its potential viewers. The most recent — and frankly hard to believe it’s even real — incident is ESPN’s decision to reassign an Asian-American college football announcer scheduled to announce a game at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville because they feared that his name, Robert Lee, might trigger fans.
After the cartoonishly politically correct decision was revealed Tuesday and the mockery online began in force, ESPN issued a few statements to explain itself. Those statements are about what you’d expect from “MSNBC With Footballs.” The first official statement ESPN released admits that the beyond-parody reports were true and tries to act as if the network really had no choice in the matter, saying, “It’s a shame this is even a topic of conversation …”
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.
With the mockery building to a point that likely has already-nervous Disney execs even more nervous, an ESPN executive issued a lengthy explanation to New York Magazine for its decision to pull the non-General Lee. The explanation is both absurd and insulting.
After spending the last year lionizing America-hating, Fidel Castro-loving, racial activist Colin Kaepernick, ESPN asks Americans to believe that reassigning Lee “wasn’t about offending anyone” and had nothing whatsoever to do with race or obeying “politically correct” prescripts. Instead, they moved him because they don’t trust Americans not to mock him, which the executive claims the derision of ESPN over the incident is hard proof that the assumption was warranted. But ESPN doesn’t stop at insulting its potential viewers, it also describes Lee as just an “anonymous play by play guy” and tries to put the burden of the decision on him, despite admitting that the company approached him about changing assignments.
Here’s the full text:
This wasn’t about offending anyone. It was about the reasonable possibility that because of his name he would be subjected to memes and jokes and who knows what else. Think about it. Robert Lee comes to town to do a game in Charlottesville. The reaction to our switching a young, anonymous play by play guy for a streamed ACC game is off the charts – reasonable proof that the meme/joke possibility was real.
So, when the protests in Charlottesville were happening, we raised with him the notion of switching games. Something we do all the time. We didn’t make him. We asked him. Eventually we mutually agreed to switch.
No biggie until someone leaked it to embarrass us and him. They got their way.
That’s what happened.
No politically correct efforts. No race issues. Just trying to be supportive of a young guy who felt it best to avoid the potential zoo.
Almost a day hasn’t gone by in which at least one ESPN personality hasn’t condemned NFL owners for smartly avoiding Kaepernick like the plague and NFL fans for not celebrating him as the champion of all things good and right, yet race and political correctness had nothing to do with pulling Lee… Also, note both the paranoia and the use of Lee as a shield in the line “No biggie until someone leaked it to embarrass us and him.” Amazing.
The blowback from the decision has been so bad that even fellow progressive crusader CNN had to admit, “By trying to avoid an embarrassing ordeal, ESPN has embarrassed itself.” Deadspin puts it a little more bluntly. That’s gotta hurt.
As The Daily Wire and others have chronicled over the last year, ESPN is in major trouble, bleeding subscribers by the week as more and more Americans cut the cord. It’s embrace of an increasingly out-of-touch leftwing political agenda is only accelerating its decline.
More from the Daily Wire on ESPN: