ESPN management pretend they didn't remove Asian announcer because of his name

When blogger Clay Travis revealed that ESPN had removed football announcer Robert Lee from doing a University of Virginia game because he had the same name as the Confederate general, the network issued a statement explaining the decision.

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.

Now CNN management has issued another statement that appears to contradict its original one:

In an internal memo, obtained by CNN, President John Skipper said "there was never any concern" that Lee's name "would offend anyone watching the Charlottesville game. The concern, Skipper explained, was for Lee and potential social media heckling.

"Among our Charlotte production staff there was a question as to whether – in these divisive times – Robert's assignment might create a distraction, or even worse, expose him to social hectoring and trolling," Skipper said in the memo.

"Since Robert was their primary concern, they consulted with him directly. He expressed some personal trepidation about the assignment and, when offered the chance to do the Youngstown State/Pitt game instead, opted for that game – in part because he lives in Albany and would be able to get home to his family on Saturday evening." ...

"I'm disappointed that the good intentions of our Charlotte colleagues have been intentionally hijacked by someone with a personal agenda, and sincerely appreciate Robert's personal input and professionalism throughout this episode," Skipper added.

Here's the tweet from CNN's Brian Stelter with the statement:

New: internal memo from ESPN prez John Skipper about the Robert Lee decision

— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) August 24, 2017

ESPN must really think its viewers are brain-dead.  Calling the decision one of "countless routine decisions" is one thing.  But to claim that there was "never any concern – by anyone at any level – that Robert Lee's name would offend anyone" watching the game is an outright lie.  ESPN's people said exactly the opposite in the original statement – an explanation that resulted in an outpouring of criticism and ridicule.

ESPN put the burden for the controversy squarely on the shoulders of its employee, Mr. Lee.  The broadcaster had to swallow this humiliation because ESPN has been laying off talent right and left in a bid to stem the flow of red ink that is the result of their sharp left turn to politicize sports.  Would you question a blame-shifting statement by management if you knew you would then be dumped at the next opportunity?  Lee took the high road and is keeping his mouth shut.

If ESPN is having trouble understanding why it is losing millions of viewers, all it has to do is look at the reaction to this statement.