A liberal Virginia political blogger hired by the Washington Redskins to help defend the team’s embattled name has resigned his post after only two weeks on the job.
Ben Tribbett, who wrote about Virginia politics at his blog Not Larry Sabato, announced in June that he was shutting down his web site and joining the team to help defend its name. “I have been a Redskins fan my entire life,” Tribbett told Richmond’s NBC 12 at the time of his hiring. “It is an honor to help the team promote a tradition that means so much to so many people.”
Tribbett made his name as the blogger who first posted the video of then-Sen. George Allen (R-VA) referring to an opposing staffer as a “macaca,” an obscure term that Tribbett insisted was a racial slur then provided documented proof supporting his thesis. His hiring by the team, then, drew immediate reaction, given that Allen’s brother, Bruce, is the team’s president and general manager, and that George Allen was among the cadre of high-profile Washington political consultants the team hired to help defend the name, as ThinkProgress first reported in January.
He came under more scrutiny this week when a Kinja user found that the list Tribbett used to back up his belief that “macaca” was a racial slur also included “Redskin” under documented slurs for Native Americans. Indian Country Today Media Network also found tweets sent by Tribbett in 2010 in which he makes a few off-hand jokes about Native Americans.
Tribbett tweeted his resignation Monday night:
Opposition to the team’s name has existed from Native American groups for decades and has grown in recent years, with top politicians (including President Obama), civil rights groups, religious leaders, media figures, and current and former players calling for it to change. The team has ramped up its efforts to defend the name in the last year, starting its own public relations campaign, hiring top consultants like Allen, ex-White House officials Ari Fleischer and Lanny Davis, and GOP communications consultant Frank Luntz, starting a foundation, and enlisting a D.C. lobbying firm. Tribbett’s hiring and subsequent resignation, however, is the latest in a series of PR nightmares for the team, from the reception the foundation immediately received from members of Congress and Native American leaders to a Twitter campaign that went horribly wrong, to the loss of the team’s federal trademark protections last month.
Tribbett told the Washington Post that he had been the subject of “political attacks” and that “things got a little out of control on Twitter,” but he said he will continue to defend the team’s name. Neither Tribbett nor the franchise immediately responded to requests for comment.