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JOURNALISM IN THE AMERICAS Blog

Racist headline, commentary get ESPN writer fired and anchor suspended



A racist headline and offensive commentary about Asian-American basketball Player Jeremy Lin have resulted in the firing of an ESPN employee and the suspension of an anchor, ESPN itself reported on Sunday, Feb. 19. The personnel actions follow apologies the sports cable network issued on Saturday, Feb. 18.

ESPN did not name the offending employees, but rather said the "ESPN employee responsible for our Mobile headline" was fired and an ESPNEWS anchor was suspended for 30 days. "We again apologize, especially to Mr. Lin," ESPN said on its website. "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."

The IB Times reported that Max Bretos was the anchor suspended for racist comments. Bretos apologized via Twitter, saying, "Wanted 2 apologize 2 all those I have upset. Not done with any racial reference. Despite intention, phrase was inappropriate in this context. My wife is Asian, would never intentionally say anything to disrespect her and that community."

The Huffington Post explained that the offensive headline, "Chink in the Armor," was "extremely insensitive and offensive considering Lin's Asian-American heritage."

On its Facebook page, the Asian American Journalists Association posted a letter to ESPN, in which the association wrote that it was "shocked that a news company with a long tradition of excellence would use a racial epithet...We trust that you will transform this incident into a teachable moment. We understand and appreciate that the offensive headline has been removed. But that's not enough. We would like to understand how it happened and what actions are being taken by ESPN to make sure such missteps do not recur."



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