ESPN has fired the employee responsible for posting a racial slur in a headline about New York Knicks guard Jeremy Lin on Saturday.
ESPN’s Kevin Ota made the announcement this morning on the network’s media zone page.
Ota also mentioned there were inappropriate on-air comments made by announcer Max Bretos and commentator Walt Frazier earlier in the week (a clip of Bretos’s comment is here, and a follow-up apology is here). Bretos was suspended for a month. And I wouldn’t expect Frazier, who isn’t an ESPN employee, back on the air any time soon either.
“We again apologize, especially to Mr. Lin,” Ota wtote. “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.”
In a letter to ESPN on its Facebook page, the Asian American Journalists Association noted it was glad ESPN recognized the mistake and quickly apologized for it, but that’s not enough:
“It disappoints us to see one of our most valued and committed partners in diversity stumble. As you well know, this incident does not live up to the Leadership in Diversity Award that AAJA bestowed on ESPN in 2010. But 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. Your internal review could be instructive for others in our industry who want to improve the systems they have – or need to put in place – to ensure that fairness, accuracy and good taste are reflected in the news coverage of our communities.”
The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, an organization that promotes civil rights for Asian Americans, also wants the network to more:
“The time for apologies is over” AALDEF writes. “The media and the general public must understand that racist language and stereotypes used to describe Jeremy Lin are an insult to all Asian Americans, and no one should tolerate their use.”
While ESPN has apologized for the headline and on-air comments, there was still no apology for the “Yellow Mamba” sign highlighted during the Lakers-Knicks game a week earlier. But that reference hasn’t gone viral like the mobile headline screenshot, so ESPN hasn’t felt obligated to bring it up again.
Either way, many viewers are still upset about the media’s handling of the Lin story and are venting about it online via the numerous social media networks ESPN participates in.
While comments are closed on the above ESPN media release and statement, the follow up has also been posted at ESPN’s Front Row where comments are still open as of this post.
You can bet this is one page ESPN execs are reading if you’d like to let ESPN know what you think of their Lin coverage of late.
Should be interesting to see how ABC/ESPN handles this issue during today’s broadcast of the Mavs-Knicks game.
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