ESPN’s Historic Racial Slur

At Big Journalism, Ron Futrell explores the epic clusterfark that is the above headline:

The New York Knicks put together an amazing winning streak with Taiwanese basketball sensation Jeremy Lin when they finally lost a game last week. The ESPN headline;  ”Chink in the Armor” (see screen shot above).

The headline was up on the ESPN mobile website for 35 minutes and actually, it was the second time the network used that phrase with Lin. One of their sports anchors unbelievably used that identical phrase.

ESPN said it is, “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.”

ESPN has fired the person responsible for the racial slur on its mobile ap and suspended the news anchor for 30 days and the pledged to “be better in the future.”

Never forget, ESPN is the network that takes a holier-than-thou approach to race and sports. They are the arbiters of right and wrong and they will be the first to try to destroy anybody who gets close to saying or doing something they find politically incorrect. Just ask Rush Limbaugh. He was forced to resign from ESPN when he went after the Philadelphia media for their coverage of Donovan McNabb. ESPN thought what he said was politically incorrect and he was gone. The words “controversial” and “racially insensitive” were used in regards to Limbaugh’s criticism of the Philadelphia media. When you set that bar at that level, you’d better be able to live up to it yourself.

Live TV can be tough and mistakes can be made, I’ve seen plenty of firings in a heartbeat over statements much less egregious. I’m proud that I’ve done 30 years live TV and radio without having anything like this ever happen, so I know first-hand the challenges of putting out a lot of live product in a hurry where you are the only filter. I had zero tolerance with myself and I met that standard.

How about the rest of the Activist Old Media? How will they react to this racial slur? Certainly, coverage would be extensive were ESPN not “one of their own.” ESPN is owned by ABC and I’ll betcha tickets to the next Knicks game that the “Mother Ship” won’t be covering this story.


Based on how NBC’s Tom Brokaw and the late Peter Jennings of ABC circled the wagons in defense of Dan Rather in the fall of 2004, that seems like an awfully safe bet.

Update: Live by identity politics, die by them as well: “Suspended ESPN Anchor [Max Bretos]: Hey, My Wife is Asian, So What’s the Big Deal About the Jeremy Lin ‘Chink’ Gag?”

More: “Jeremy Lin headline slur was ‘honest mistake,’ fired ESPN editor Anthony Federico claims.”


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