UPDATE: Now-unemployed web editor Anthony Federico spoke out for the first time on Wednesday to apologize. His apology and explanation seems genuine and moving. What do you think?
First came Fox Sports commentator Jason Whitlock’s tweet about the size of Jeremy Lin’s pecker. Then came all the race-baiting idiots on Facebook champing at the bit to talk about what really matters in all this Linsanity: his taste for fried rice, whether or not Asians can drive a car, whether or not Asians can play basketball, his skill at math, and whether Jeremy Lin can pronounce the letter L. Classy.
Now, in the wake of the New York Knicks’ first loss of the Lin Dynasty, a disappointing 89-85 defeat to the lowly New Orleans Hornets in which Lin turned the ball over 9 times, ESPN has decided to beat them all and post the single worst possible headline it could have posted: “Chink in the Armor.”
The unemployment rate is about to rise after this one.
Seriously, ESPN? Seth and Amy are standing by right now for a Really?!?! segment.
That’s no unhappy accident. There’s just no way. That’s two frat bros sitting at the controls during on the skeleton crew that comes to work in Bristol on Friday nights, riffing off each other, making terrible joke after terrible joke in private, and someone being dumb enough to post it to the public site.
Here’s a view of what ran on the mobile site:
Both headlines were obviously taken down. These screenshots will linger, however.
Oh, and the “chink in the armor” phrase got turned on ESPN News, too. This seems, somehow, more harmless, but Max Bretos was suspended for 30 days nonetheless:
While there is certainly no excuse for this behavior, it should be noted that Lin’s handle on his heavily scrutinized Xanga page from 2004 was “Chinkballa88.” That doesn’t exonerate ESPN for its idiocy, but it’s at least worth it to consider that Lin has like heard much worse and called himself similar slurs.
ESPN posted this weak apology more than seven hours after the fact: “Last night, ESPN.com’s mobile web site posted an offensive headline referencing Jeremy Lin at 2:30 am ET,” the statement says. “The headline was removed at 3:05 am ET. We are conducting a complete review of our cross-platform editorial procedures and are determining appropriate disciplinary action to ensure this does not happen again. We regret and apologize for this mistake.”
UPDATE I: The ESPN employee responsible for the headline has been dismissed, ESPN said Sunday. The employee, 28-year-old Anthony Federico, told the NY Daily News that the racial slur never entered his mind. “This had nothing to do with me being cute or punny,” he said. “I’m so sorry that I offended people. I’m so sorry if I offended Jeremy.”
UPDATE II: Lin responded on Sunday after the Knicks’ huge victory over Dallas, in which the Internet sensation scored 28 points and dished out 14 assists: “They’ve apologized and so from my end, I don’t care anymore. You have to learn to forgive, and I don’t even think that was intentional.”
UPDATE III: SNL addressed the media’s struggles with the Lin stereotypes on Saturday:
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