MSNBC’s Morning Joe panel mocked ESPN on Wednesday for removing a broadcaster named Robert Lee from an upcoming name at the University of Virginia, because they were concerned that he would become a distraction since he shared the same name as the famed Confederate general.
“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 a statement. “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.”
Lee, who is Asian was scheduled to do play-by-play coverage for the opening game between the University of Virginia and William and Mary in Charlottesville.
Morning Joe co-host Willie Geist was in disbelief saying that when he first read the story he thought it came from the satirical site The Onion because it was so unbelievable, adding that it wasn’t even an issue until ESPN issued the statement.
Liberal Washington Post columnist agreed, calling it “the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.” while pointing out that “even the mask-wearing Antifa anarchists are going to realize that that’s not the guy in the statue.”
Robinson agreed with Geist that the decision was “really dumb.”
ESPN’s Bob Ley, whose name is pronounced Lee, got into the act with a tweet that mocked the network.
Rather worried my employee ID/pass may not admit me in the AM. Life, as scripted by @OnionSports.
— Bob Ley (@BobLeyESPN) August 23, 2017
This was a self-inflicted injury that ESPN didn’t need at a time when their ratings and profits are falling like a stone.