ESPN has fired one employee and suspended another 30 days for the use of the phrase "chink in the armor" when referencing Jeremy Lin's struggles during the New York Knicks' loss on Friday, Feb. 17. The company also apologized for a radio commentator who made another undisclosed offensive comment on ESPN Radio New York, but noted that the commentator was not an ESPN employee.
ESPN announced the punishments in a statement Sunday morning:
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 here. 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.
The phrase "chink in the armor" was used as a headline below a picture of Lin, an Asian-American, for approximately 30 minutes on ESPN's mobile site following the Knicks' loss on Feb. 17.
Earlier in the week on Feb. 15, ESPNEWS anchor Max Bretos used the same phrase while asking Walt Frazier a question about Lin on live television. Bretos issued an apology on Twitter, saying his choice of words was never meant to be offensive:
Wanted 2 apologize 2 all those I have upset. Not done with any racial reference. Despite intention,phrase was inappropriate in this context.— Max Bretos (@mbretosESPN) February 19, 2012
My wife is Asian, would never intentionally say anything to disrespect her and that community.— Max Bretos (@mbretosESPN) February 19, 2012
I have learned from this will make every effort to avoid something similar happening again.— Max Bretos (@mbretosESPN) February 19, 2012