Washington, D.C. — Today, emails obtained exclusively by ThinkProgress show that the general manager of the Washington Redskins, Bruce Allen, called questions regarding the campaign to change the team’s name “ignorant.”
Included in the email chain were high-profile Republican advisers, who were consulted by the Redskins as to how to respond to ThinkProgress reporter Travis Waldron’s questions. The advisers included Frank Luntz, the Republican messaging consultant famous for coining phrases such as “climate change” and “death tax”; Ari Fleisher, who served as White House press secretary under George W. Bush from 2001 to 2003 and now runs a consulting firm called Ari Fleischer Sports Communications; and George Allen, the former Virginia governor and U.S. senator, son of former Redskins head coach George Allen, and brother of general manager Bruce Allen, who now runs the consulting firm George Allen Strategies.
According to the emails, the advisers’ attitudes toward the questions raised by the team’s critics over the past four decades is deeply dismissive of nearly every piece of the argument that made up the campaign against the name.
The email chain shows that after Waldron requested comment on a number of issues related to the Redskins name and claims made by its opponents, the Redskins Vice President of Communications Tony Wyllie forwarded the email to Luntz, Fleischer, and the Allens. George Allen’s response is the first included in the chain, and it suggests that the team reiterate its story about changing its name to honor Lone Star Dietz, even though the team can’t prove its claims.
“The point was that the Redskins owner at the time obviously believed that Lone Star Dietz was Native American and named the team to honor Native Americans and be motivated by their heritage,” Allen, whose 2006 Senate campaign was marked by allegations about his use of racially charged language, wrote. “All the other aspects of the story about Lone Star’s adoption and other intrigue and speculation is undoubtedly beyond our ability to discern as to its veracity.”
“We don’t need to comment on all these ignorant requests,” Bruce Allen wrote in response.
“I agree,” Fleischer responded, “not [sic] need to answer any more questions or waste any more time with this outfit.”
Waldron’s questions to the team included inquiries about its response to the idea that the campaign against its name was now “permanent” and to the fact that multiple Native American leaders and their allies had suggested that a name change was “inevitable.” The others questions addressed the trademark lawsuit, the fact that civil rights groups, political leaders, and media figures had criticized the name, and whether the team was aware of the research questioning the veracity of Dietz’s Native American heritage.
Read the full story: The Epic Battle to Save The Most Offensive Team Name in Professional Sports by Travis Waldron
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