ESPN “dismisses” employee responsible for Jeremy Lin headline

New York Knicks Jeremy Lin stands on the court in the first quarter against the Sacramento Kings at Madison Square Garden in New York City on February 15, 2012. The Knicks defeated the Kings 100-85. UPI/John Angelillo

ESPN has released a statement following the backlash over Friday’s headline “Chink in the Armor,” which was either in reference to the Knicks losing their first game in 13 days or as a way to describe Asian-American Jeremy Lin. (Or both.)

Here’s ESPN’s statement, which is currently posted on the network’s official website:

At ESPN we are aware of three offensive and inappropriate comments made on ESPN outlets during our coverage of Jeremy Lin.

Saturday we apologized for two references here. We have since learned of a similar reference Friday on ESPN Radio New York. The incidents were separate and different. We have engaged in a thorough review of all three and have taken the following action:

• The ESPN employee responsible for our Mobile headline has been dismissed.

• The ESPNEWS anchor has been suspended for 30 days.

• The radio commentator is not an ESPN employee.

We again apologize, especially to Mr. Lin. His accomplishments are a source of great pride to the Asian-American community, including the Asian-American employees at ESPN. Through self-examination, improved editorial practices and controls, and response to constructive criticism, we will be better in the future.

I would rather believe that the headline was unintentional and just a massive oversight by ESPN employees because then that would mean racism never entered the minds of those involved. They simply posted “Chink in the Armor” because it served the purpose of describing that the Knicks finally displayed a weakness or a flaw since “Linsanity” started.

But then again I’m not that naïve. There are tons of other headlines that ESPN could have used to describe the loss. Here’s one: “Flawed after all.” It’s short and sweet, it rhythms, and hey, it’s devoid of any ethic slurs, which I think is its best attribute. Win-win-win.

Even if this situation was just a bad mistake, how anyone could be that dim as to not think the headline would cause a stir is beyond me. Headlines are supposed to draw attention, so you’re telling me people at ESPN didn’t stare at that thing 20 times before posting it to the site? It’s almost more believable that someone posted the headline as a terrible crack at humor rather than foolishly thinking it wouldn’t create controversy. And to use the slur twice in one day (once in print and once out of an anchor’s mouth) is brutal.

What’s done is done. ESPN took measures to correct the mistake and apologized, so it’ll take it’s medicine and hopefully learn from the experience.

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