Well, that was quick. I'd like to think that it was the collective fury of the internet and beyond that forced ESPN to take swift action and fire the employee responsible for writing that incredibly stupid "Chink In The Armor" headline on Friday night: ESPN fires writer of offensive headline about Jeremy Lin.
Some editor probably thought they were being clever when they it occurred to them to use a freaking racial slur in the headline. And if you're one of those people arguing that "chink in the armor" is a legitimate expression, you can suck it. The writer was invoking race and knew exactly what they were doing.
The headline was only up for 35 minutes, but it was enough to get screen-grabbed, shared and social media-ed like crazy. ESPN issued a short statement of apology the morning after, promising a review of editorial procedures and "appropriate disciplinary action." Not very reassuring, but it was a start.
By this morning, ESPN announed that they had taken action to address both the headline and a previous instance in which anchor Max Bretos used the expression during a broadcast, as well as a similar recent reference uttered on ESPN Radio in New York:
Statement on offensive commentsI've seen a lot of crap like this over the years, but I've never seen a media entity like ESPN act this fast to address a complaint. That's the Jeremy Lin Effect. More here: Apparently intentional, ESPN's since-deleted headline about Jeremy Lin was distressing.
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. 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.
Of course, this doesn't mean it all goes away. In addition to firing this fool, I hope ESPN and other newsrooms take a good, hard look at the way they address race in instances like this -- not just as a pun or a punchline.
I guess that's an important component of how Jeremy Lin has inadvertently opened up the dialogue on what it means to be Asian in America. With all the hero worship and scrutiny of number 17, the lone Asian face on the court, will people think twice about making a dumbass Asian comment? I wouldn't hold my breath, but like I said, it's a start.