MSNBC's "Morning Joe" co-host Joe Scarborough slammed ESPN on Thursday for its decision to remove a broadcaster named Robert Lee from an upcoming University of Virginia football game in Charlottesville, Va.
Scarborough told guest Donny Deutsch that the decision was "just stupid" and ESPN should apologize to Lee, ESPN fans, and all the new President Donald Trump "converts" for the "stupidity."
Deutsch reiterated the background of the controversy—explaining how ESPN made the decision because the Asian-American broadcaster shared a name with Confederate General Robert E. Lee—and then said he has always believed consumers to be "relatively intelligent." He said fans would know it was not the deceased general calling the football game.
"You know Willie [Geist], they're saying that they are doing this to help the guy, to protect the guy, that's again—it is such an overreaction," Scarborough said. "It's lunacy. It's political correctness run amuck. It's just stupid. I can't imagine why ESPN is still holding the line and not backing down, and saying, ‘You know, we really screwed up.'"
Scarborough expressed disbelief in the fact that ESPN has not yet backed down. He said that at this point, if Lee was a broadcaster for the game, he would get a standing ovation and ESPN would "get higher ratings than they have had for any Virginia game in years."
"The other side of it is they were worried about his safety I guess," co-host Willie Geist said. "I don't know who was threatening Robert Lee. The game, with all due respect to the two teams, UVA against William and Mary, I don't think a lot of people were going to be watching that."
"With due respect to my friends and family at ESPN, they stepped in it on this one," Geist added.
Deutsch said in response that the incident shows how the country is "on edge" to the point where you get an "insane overreaction" like the one with ESPN.