Avoiding difficult conversations is not new
In similar circumstances my boss at the time (and the previous incumbent in my role) used to phone the managers and then follow-up with internal memos. Although my boss was respected, he was thought of as slightly aloof.
My boss sometimes took this aloofness to extraordinary, almost comic lengths. On one memorable occasion, he opened the computer room door at lunchtime, and looked in to find me at my desk and one of the operations team working quietly at a console. My boss scanned the room, fixed his gaze on the operator, sighed heavily, and left without saying anything.
Later that afternoon I received an internal memo from him, typed by his secretary and signed by him. It said he had noticed, when he’d looked through the door at lunchtime, that the operator was using headphones to listen to music. I was not to allow this to happen again. The memo was cc’d to our ultimate boss, the Finance Director.
I was amazed that he’d written a memo to raise this issue. I was also very uncertain as to how to respond. I could hardly write a memo back (although the thought did cross my mind). He clearly did not want to discuss the matter. But my every instinct was to raise it with him in person. His chosen mode of communication was more of an issue to me than the substance of his complaint.