This story flew around the Fever Swamps™ like a bad illness when it was first reported. It went along the lines of: Overly politically correct ESPN banned an announcer from a game simply because he shared a name with infamous traitor General Robert E. Lee. State Rep. Lori Saine (R-Firestone) bought it.
State House Majority Leader Patrick Neville (R-Castle Rock) ate it up as well:
So did State Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg (R-Sterling):
State Sen. Tim Neville (R-Castle Rock) was his credulous self:
Former A.M. Radio provocateur Mike Rosen was incensed, going so far as to say the “politically-correct ESPNs of the world” will “terrorize” people named Robert Lee.
State Rep. Dave Williams (R-Colorado Springs) deemed it unfair “punishment”:
The only problem is that it didn’t go down that way. It was, in fact, Robert Lee’s choice to not broadcast that game, and ESPN wanted to protect him from “social hectoring and trolling.” Here is the text of a note ESPN President John Skipper posted for employees:
Given the amount of media attention being generated by one of the countless, routine decisions our local production teams make every day, I wanted to make sure you have the facts. There was never any concern – by anyone, at any level — that Robert Lee’s name would offend anyone watching the Charlottesville game.
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. 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.
But guess what? Too late. The damage is done.
The episode is being and will continue to be used as another “example” of what conservatives see as over-reaching PC culture. This is how the right commits self-deception. They need to believe that lovers of the Confederacy are not in the wrong and that their basis for sympathizing with the overtly racist elements in their party is valid.