ESPN’s Unacceptable Lin Headline

February 19, 2012 by staff 

ESPN’s Unacceptable Lin Headline, ESPN apologized Saturday for using an anti-Asian slur in a headline about Knicks star Jeremy Lin after he committed nine turnovers in a loss to the New Orleans Hornets Friday night.

The headline “Ch–k in the Armor” – posted after the Knicks’ seven-game winning streak ended – was up for about 35 minutes before being pulled off

“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,” the network said in a statement. “We regret and apologize for this mistake.”

But that was not the first time an ESPN used the slur.

An anchor also used the racist descriptor in a broadcast on ESPN News Wednesday while questioning Knicks announcer Walt Frazier about signs of weakness in Lin’s game, prompting a separate on-air apology broadcast several times Saturday.

By Saturday morning, the offensive web headline had created a public relations fiasco for the network, drawing criticism even from its own staff.

“Thought I was annoyed when I was awakened from deep sleep,” SportsCenter anchor Michael Kim tweeted. “Then I checked text msgs/Twitter. Unacceptable. Extremely disappointed.” editor-in-chief Rob King also offered apologies on his Twitter account, saying “There’s no defense for the indefensible. All we can offer are our apologies, sincere though incalculably inadequate.”

In a letter to ESPN, the Asian American Journalists Association called the headline “inexcusable.”

“Many people, not just in Asian American communities, are shocked that a news company with a long tradition of excellence would use a racial epithet,” the letter said. “It’s particularly galling because of the weeks of discussion about Lin, his heritage and even the wave of outright racism surrounding his stardom.”

AAJA said it’s not enough that ESPN took the headline down – the organization wants to know how it was posted to begin with.

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