Dumber By The Minute: Reuters Calls ESPN's Robert Lee a Confederate 'Namesake', 'Doppelganger'

Christine Rousselle
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Posted: Aug 23, 2017 4:00 PM
Dumber By The Minute: Reuters Calls ESPN's Robert Lee a Confederate 'Namesake', 'Doppelganger'

Last night, Katie brought you the story of how Robert Lee, an Asian broadcaster working with ESPN, would not be working on the upcoming University of Virginia vs. William & Mary football game because he happens to have a similar name to the former Confederate general. ESPN said that they pulled Lee from the game due to concerns that his name may be insensitive to the still-healing Charlottesville community. 

While this is already a ridiculously stupid story, somehow Reuters was able to make things a thousand times dumber when they revealed that they have no idea what the words "namesake" and "doppelganger" mean. 

First, there was this gem of a tweet:

If any Reuters employees are reading this, a "doppelganger" is defined as "a ghostly double or counterpart of a living person" Aka, a lookalike. 

Here's a photo comparison of Robert Lee and Gen. Robert E. Lee. The Civil War general is the one with the beard who is not Asian. 

Uncanny resemblance, right? It's pretty eerie. 

And then this one came shortly after, where Lee had been downgraded from a doppelganger to a namesake. (Editor's note: the tweet was deleted, but here's a screenshot.)

For anyone who is unaware, a "namesake" means that "one that has the same name as another; especially one who is named after another or for whom another is named." It's currently unclear as to what broadcaster Robert Lee's middle name is, but it's probably unlikely to be "Edward," the general's middle name. It's also pretty unlikely that Lee was named after the Confederate general, given the ubiquity of both the names "Robert" and "Lee." 

Sometimes perfectly benign names become slightly awkward as a person grows up. For instance, one of the top basketball recruits in the country right now has the rather unfortunate name David Duke. (He appears to be named after his father, not after the racist politician from Louisiana.) I went to high school with a kid named "Scott Peterson," who was probably told to avoid women named Laci about 40 times a day during the other Scott Peterson's murder trial. In a sane society, we'd laugh off the bizarre coincidences--but ESPN (and Reuters!) had to go and make things a problem when there really is none.