OT: ESPN fires writer who authored "chink in the armor" headline

Submitted by mGrowOld on February 19th, 2012 at 2:20 PM

A follow-up to last night's web fail - ESPN has fired the writer responsible for the infamous "chink in the armor" headline.  What's truly amazing is that apparently this wasn't the only instance of ESPN using this slur as they have also suspended anchor Mike Bretos who said the same thing on air Wednesday and then apologized for a third reference to a "chink in the armor" made on ESPN radio regarding Lin Friday night as well.

Sounds lo me like they had this pre-written and ready to go the first time Lin had a bad game given how many different people used that phrase from the same network in a short period of time.  Which is truly amazing to me given that this is 2012 and believe it or not ESPN it is NOT ok to make fun of people of Asian descent.  





February 19th, 2012 at 2:44 PM ^

There was probably no one other than the editor that got fired that saw the headline before it went up.  If it was published at 5pm, it would probably be a different story.  Given the size of ESPN's website and various mobile sites, they can't check everything before it goes up -- especially at 2:30am.  That's why you hire people that are supposed be able to make these kind of intellegent decisions on their own.


February 19th, 2012 at 7:39 PM ^

They may get international traffic on their site, but its nothing compared to what they get in the US.  They don't staff people around the clock to deal with English headlines that may or may not be read in China.  Its like any other media company in the US -- after midnight, its a barebones staff.

I mean, you can't seriously think ESPN is fully or even partially staffed after midnight to create online content for China can you?


February 19th, 2012 at 4:14 PM ^

...but if it is, there is greater culpability elsewhere in the chain of command for not using what are standard editorial practices which exist to keep this sort of thing from happening.  For example, at CNN.com anything that is authored internally and doesn't come off of the wire is at least passing from the writer, through an editor, and then to a producer before it ever gets online, with each of these three having some ability and responsibility to raise a flag if something is wrong.

If ESPN's big wigs have decided to eliminate these safeguards, than I expect it is only reasonable that they have accountability when their streamlined/cost-effective/value-added editorial system embarrasses the entire brand.



February 19th, 2012 at 7:50 PM ^

Its a media company that's trying to generate bigger and fatter profits in the midst of a recession.  Doing more with less.  At 2:30am, you'd better believe the editorial system you'd find in normal newsrooms, or even at ESPN during the day is virtually non-existant.

Plus, don't forget, this is all on the internet.  Its easy as hell to post something on the internet.  Getting something on TV is a totally different ball of wax.  For any given TV show at any hour of the day, you probably have at a minimum of 8 people working on the show and with their eyes on the content.  For the internet, all you need is 1 person to type and hit publish.  That's how shit like this happens.


February 19th, 2012 at 2:27 PM ^

Eh, I don't know about that. I doubt they were trying to make fun of his ethnicity.  I'd say it's much more likely that they were just incredibly stupid.  Maybe the writer of the article thought it was funny but I doubt the commentators had that in mind.  It is a pretty common saying after all.


February 19th, 2012 at 2:31 PM ^

The writer definitely knew what he was doing. Every Lin front page had a bad pun in the title. There's no way it wasn't a racial joke. I agree that the commentators probably didn't mean anything by it. They must've talked to him before he was suspended so maybe he admitted it was a joke?


February 19th, 2012 at 2:47 PM ^

I don't know about "no way" man...  Seems like a case of using a semi-common cliche at an incredibly inopportune time.  There's no way you intentionally make a racist joke like that unless you want to get fired.  ESPN is owned by Disney and they don't fuck around with things like this.


February 19th, 2012 at 2:59 PM ^

If someone forced ESPN to give a reason for his firing, I bet it would be more along the lines of "did something idiotic" than "did something racist".

I'd like to give people the benefit of the doubt when it comes to racism; otherwise we're all going to be confused with actual racists if we make an honest mistake. My money would be on honest mistake (which doesn't mean I think he deserves his former job).


February 19th, 2012 at 3:07 PM ^

That's why I give the benefit of the doubt to the announcers, especially when it's a common phrase. However, the whole point of those headlines is to have attention-grabbing puns. I read it and instantly thought, "That's a pretty bad joke." I'm definitely not Mr. PC but a large news organization like ESPN has to meet a higher standard in that respect.


February 19th, 2012 at 3:12 PM ^

Like I said, I don't think he deserves to be an editor at ESPN, given how dumb that headline was. I just think we need to have a bit of a higher standard before slinging around "The R Word".

Maybe this guy is an Asian hater who wanted to undermine Lin any way he could; I just don't see how we can come to that conclusion from what we have. What we can say for sure is that he made a dumb mistake, which is pretty much beyond dispute IMO.


February 19th, 2012 at 3:12 PM ^

I didn't even notice what was wrong with it until someone said it was bad... (obviously the racist connections didn't line up in my head).

Jason Whitlock on the other hand, a guy who makes his living off of discussing/yelling/bitching/crying/talking/writting/speaking about race, is happy to keep his job and simply "appologize".


February 19th, 2012 at 2:31 PM ^

Stupid.  Anyone with half a brain would know that this would be racially insensative.  The fact that so many people said it/wrote it as soon as it went down does have an air to preemptiveness to it.  That kind of un-luck is unrealistic


February 19th, 2012 at 3:24 PM ^

It took me a good five minutes to figure out why everyone was so up in arms about it. Why? Because I've only heard of the slur "chink" a few times in my life. You see, members of the younger generation didn't grow up with that being a part of normal people's vocabulary. The only time I've heard it was from like old movies and stuff. I'm sure there are some places where it's still commonly used, but don't assume that everyone is as familiar with racist terminology. A lot of it isn't widely used enough where people even know it anymore.

Feat of Clay

February 20th, 2012 at 4:20 PM ^

Before Biggby's Coffee was Biggby's, it went by a name that I grew up thinking of an ethnic slur.  I don't mean to be coy, I just can't bring myself to type it.  When that sign went up on Liberty I was pretty surprised; why would a business choose that name?  Clearly, however, some people (maybe even the majority of people?) had never heard it used as a slur before.


February 19th, 2012 at 2:34 PM ^

... but IMHO we've gotten WAAY too sensitive about this kind of thing. Should it have been used as a headline? No, probably not. But we're so intolerant these days it's getting to the point where voicing a contrary political opinion can get you fired. Look no further than MSNBC. Good grief! Examples of double standards abound.

Whatever happened to "sticks and stones...?"



February 19th, 2012 at 2:38 PM ^

I'm sure I'm older than you and trust me I'm the furthest thing from PC you can imagine and even I know that using the phrase "a chink in the armor" is not a dissenting opinion on anything.  It's bad attempt to being "cute" using a racial term to describe Lin.  If Lin was black or hispanic could you imagine in your wildest dreams a headline, followed by an on-air description followed by a radio reference being used  to describe his race without a massive public firestorm?


February 19th, 2012 at 2:43 PM ^

"Probably not"? So are you saying there are instances when using "chink" to humorously refer to an asian are acceptable?  I don't think it's your "advanced age" - I think it's your tolerance for racial humor.


And your hyperbole about political opinion could not be more misplaced.


February 19th, 2012 at 5:00 PM ^

IMHO, it's the people that use these phases and/or have never had these phases used on them who claim that the rest of the world is being too sensitive and that we should just let these things go.  

Also, I think that you're confusing the issue.  I agree that people should be able to express contrary political opinions.   This wasn't a contrary political opinion.   It was a straight out racist statement made by someone representing one of the largest media empires in the U.S.    


February 19th, 2012 at 3:07 PM ^

with intent.  I remember Kelly Tilghman on the Golf channel made a comment about the pros wanting to lynch Tiger Woods the way he was putting at that time.  She clearly did not intent to make a racist comment,aploagized profusely and Tiger was cool with it.  Of course, she did not have the benefit of time before it came out of her mouth.  If the writer was fired without proving intent, just to make a public showing of pc., that's just wrong.  It was a stupid comment, but most people don't get fired for stupidity unless it's chronic.

swan flu

February 19th, 2012 at 2:31 PM ^

ESPN sportscenter anchors have been using the phrase "chink in the armor" for years.  My friend, who is of chinese descent, has always been upset at how often the phrase is used.


On a side note, anyone see the opening skit from SNL last night?  very funny commentary about sterotypes in sportscasting.


February 19th, 2012 at 2:38 PM ^

Your Chinese friend should not have been offended by its normal usage. In its original meaning, “chink” is an obscure word meaning a slit, fissure, or weak spot that can leave one vulnerable. Hence “Chink in the armor” means a weak spot in one's protection or plan. This meaning of "chink" long predates the much more recent ethnic slur "chink."

The gaffe in the ESPN case was using it in reference to the most famous Chinese athlete in the Western world right now. How it got past multiple sets of eyes at ESPN is mind-boggling.


February 19th, 2012 at 2:34 PM ^

I wonder what it be like if Lin played for the milwaukee bucks who get NO media coverage.  Would anyone even be talking about him?  Is Lin that good or is he getting blown up by the New York media coverage


February 19th, 2012 at 3:52 PM ^

Both, he's not exactly a scrub and has put up good numbers against good teams. Still pretty raw (turnover prone and not good going left) but the knicks really need him. Their offense is stagnant whenever he is out and thats why he has to play a ridiculous amount of minutes.

 Skills + Wins + Underdog story + Asian American angle + NY Hype machine = "Linsanity"


February 19th, 2012 at 6:48 PM ^

Let's assume for just a moment that the author of the headline meant the the opposing team had found a weakness in Lin's game and took advantage of it.

My question -- in that loss did the opposing team take advantage of a discovered weakness in Lin's game?

Few players are without any weaknesses.  You mentioned turnovers and trouble going left.  Did the opposing team pressure Lin seeking to force turnovers?  Did they box him so he had no choice but go to his weaker left side?

I don't know much about basketball, and I definitely didn't analyze that particular game.  But every new phenom gets scrutinized more closely eventually.  I'm wondering if opposing teams are now aware of how to beat Lin based on his weaknesses?


February 19th, 2012 at 11:12 PM ^

I honestly didn't really follow the knicks-hornets game that closely, It was a laggy feed for when I did watch but it seemed like they were just sluggish overall, not just Lin, but the rest of the Knicks as well. 

Not exactly sure what the factors were, maybe a combination of coming down from a 2 week high, fatigue, looking past the lowly hornets and towards the defending champions, but his weaknesses aren't new information and im sure it's been on many scouting reports. The Mavs are supposed to be one of the better defensive teams and they decided to double and trap him many times during the game but he still pulled out a good one


February 19th, 2012 at 2:43 PM ^

ESPN has used this phrase over three thousand times on ESPN.com.  Obviously it was insensitive, but I think the headline published at 2:30AM was more likely an oversite than anything else.  Its like the guy who was fired over insulting Detroit drivers on Crysler's official twitter.  Understandable that they have to be let go, but unfortunate that someone loses their job over an honest mistake that at worst may have offended a few people.


I mean I just don't believe anyone is stupid enough to post a headline like that intentionally while understanding the context.  Unless you were planning on quitting the next day.

One Armed Bandit

February 19th, 2012 at 2:37 PM ^

the copy writer, not the writer of the story. The author of the story usually has nothing to do with what headline is attached. I assume they mean copy writer, but it seems unclear from the text.


February 19th, 2012 at 2:50 PM ^

Here's a great learning opportunity.  We assume posters on this board will say immature things.  It's mildly humorous even if inappropriate because we don't expect very much from said random internet people.  We roll our eyes and move on.

Now imagine your joke being a headline for ESPN after the Knicks somehow win the championship and they show a picture of Lin with the caption "Happy Ending".

Both your joke and ESPN's would be in poor taste, but one is mild and the other would be inexcusable.


February 19th, 2012 at 7:32 PM ^

find "happy endings," at asian or oriental massage parlors?  what do you call a HJ that you can get from a white, black, latina chick?  i believe that a HJ that a man gets from any masseuse (doesn't matter what her ethnicity is) is called a Happy Ending.


February 20th, 2012 at 12:07 AM ^

It's called a stereotype.  Moronic yes, but a great deal of the humor comes with the ignorance associated with it.

For example, you can find watermelon at many barbeques, but someone attempting to make an ignorant black joke, like Fuzzy Zoeller at the masters, would no doubt jump at the opportunity.

The happy ending is most closely associated with the chinese masseuse because of the abundance of these spas in chinatowns around the US.