Follow-up statement and action

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.

(Statement also appears on ESPN’s MediaZone) and at ESPN.com

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  • David

    I feel that it is difficult to not give any benefit of the doubt to someone who has claimed that it was an honest mistake. The word in question has an actual literary meaning other than to degrade Asian Americans. One of the “offenders” has a wife who is either Asian or Asian American according to his twitter statements. Let’s make sure that we are appropriately directing our criticisms.

  • David

    It should also be noted that the word in question is used derogatorily towards Chinese people and Lin is of Tiwaneese decent.

  • David Marcus

    David on February 20, 2012 at 2:21 pm
    You are SPOT ON as is your 2:29 comment. You might make belive there are reasoning people in the world

  • Educated original man

    It is 2012 and our education system has failed us again. There are people on here who do not realize that using “Ch**nk” with the association with J LIn is like saying a headline about LeBron when he loses a game as such: “N****r” in armor”. The idiots who cannot see the parallel in the headline with racism are either dumb as a bag of rocks or just pure racist. Wake up people. It’s that kind of ignorance that has held this country back for many years. Please try reading a book to educate yourself and better your IQ, please. And can we stop using the childish phrase “Serioulsy” and “Really”. You sound like a bunch of high school drop outs at the age of 14. Think of a new phrase, be a leader and not a follower. Geez! You people will wear something into the ground and keep using it for 2 years. Be creative.

  • David Marcus

    Good lord ESPN moderator, you guys are so twitchy right now…you removed the wrong duplicate comment. I mistakenly hit return I was just trying to complement David on his excellent observations. He gave me more hope there might be more reasonable thoughful people in the world.

  • Jason

    I’ve read his apology, and while he claimed it was an honest mistake the issue here is regardless of intent OF COURSE he would, that’s the entire premise of cloaked racism. He was being paid for his vocabulary, judgement, and usage of words. If he had thought he was being clever he did it knowing he had a defense at the ready. If he did it out of ignorance he did it failing to know the history of the word in use, had awful judgement in thinking it was an appropriate headline, and proved he couldn’t be trusted with the words that were attached to the ESPN name, not his own.

    Hoped to see some type of response to the knickerblogger comment, but I guess that just failed to reach an audience to warrant a response. A defense of “I was ironically using racist slurs” and a change after the fact to me is just the author hoping his slur was on the lower rung of racial slurs so he gets a pass. I liked Huckleberry Finn, but if an author were to refer to a player with the “N-word” before his first name there would be hell to pay.

  • Doug

    “You still don’t get it. Lin’s accomplishments should be a matter of pride for Americans. Period” — Why? They are not your acomplishments, nor are they mine. The only person with reason to be “proud” of anything Lin has done is Lin himself, because he did them. Now, while the phrase “XXXXX in the armor” was ill-advised, I think it was mainly ill advised because of the ethnic back ground of Mr. Lin. Had they used the same headline about any non-asian player nobody would have said anything. I for one seriously doubt there was any racist intent in the headline or comments and nobody should be losing their job over this.

  • Doug

    “I can’t wait for the inevitable “we’re just getting too politically correct here, doncha think?” comments from the same people who have used the term “politically correct” to suit their own bigoted agenda.” — I think you have “political correctness” reversed. Being politically correct NEVER adds words or phrases to the language, “political correctness” is almost exclusively used to REMOVE or BAN words or phrases because they might offend some minority party, person or interest, even if the particular group being “protected” sometimes uses the very word themselves (like, the “N word”). It is never used to increase someone’s ability to advance any “bigoted agenda”. Simply fact is if we eliminate every word or phrase that might ever offend anyone we will have almost no remaining ability to communicate for fear of losing our jobs or freedom.

  • Doug

    “I have noticed that many on here are covering up with the derogatory term for African Americans (the “N-word”) but you are not affording the same respect for the derogatory term for Asian Americans by fully using the so-called “C-word” in comments” — maybe that is because the the word “chink”, although it can be used derogatorily, has an actual, non-racist, non-perjoritive meaning, i.e. a crack or fissure, whereas the “N-word” does not (except, apparently, when used by one African American to refer to another, then suddenly its okay to say – go figure).

    • David Scott

      Doug –
      Our moderators are taking caution to edit out offensive language. At this point in the moderated commenting, the terms being used have been established. We hope to further the discussion and not let it get bogged down in name-calling. We welcome your take on that as well. Thank you.

  • cindy

    as an asian AMERICAN, i believe they know exactly what they were referring to when they used the “c” word. like most racist bigots, they then back peddle to try to say it was innocent. there is NO purpose of this kind of mean degrading behavior other than to hurt, tear down the actual innocent people. weather out of jealousy because these espn announcers, editors will never be the super star Lin is, or they are just down right jerks. this definitely tarnished the whole sports organization. Now its ESPN’s turn to make this right and treat it with the seriousness it deserves.

  • H2Fish

    David Scott

    Thank you for your comment related to ESPN Moderators taking caution to edit out offensive language. What about taking greater caution to overt the less obvious displays of racism? Lin’s success story does create an irony, not recruited by a college, no scholarships, walk on success at Harvard and NBA, and a Harvard grad. Admittedly, a success story uncommon in United States. It’s an American success story! ESPN’s continued use of other Asians foreign and American born juxtapose of multiple Lin’s success because of his hard work, commitment to the game and a bit of luck (timing). His is success perhaps making Asian American’s proud to finally have someone of Asian decent having success in the NBA. The color of his skin, hair or slant of his eyes is irrelevant.

  • H2Fish

    David

    My comment somehow was submitted when I was not done. I did not get a chance to say his success juxtaposed to multiple Asian Foreign and Natural born American citizens has nothing to do with Lin. It is playing of a stereotypic generalization predicated upon various Asians in American and abroad. Will you eliminate that less overt display of racism?

  • David Marcus

    So I’m curious what Cindy and many like her thinks will “make this right”? Should the poster of the offensive and dreaded “c” word be fired? Check. Should the poster be portrayed an lying, evil, hurtful racist? Should the world shout out his name as one curses the devil himself? Check and Check. Should ESPN as a corporate entity ensure that this vile man never be employed by it’s parent company Disney, ABC and any other affiliates? hmmm can’t put a check on that for sure… but I’m pretty sure that will be a check. Is taking away a person’s livelihood enough? Should there be more? Where is the appropriate place to drawn the line in retribution for this unspeakable act? Where should we stop? Tell us Cindy, where is the line? Treat it with the “seriousness it deserves” you say. How much “seriousness” does it deserve? Because I really think we all want to know what line to toe to “make it right”. We all probably want to know where the hate ends and your compassion begins.

  • Ed

    @David Scott- Have you gone back and removed the same phrase from ALL of ESPN’s webpages over the past 4 years?

    I see ESPN used the exact same phrase multiple times. But then there’s nor real reason to remove it, is there? At least there isn’t if one actually speaks idiomatic English and has a grasp of the language.

    Apparently none of ESPN’s executives actually DO know English.

  • Willie

    These are professional journalists people who well one would assume have communication, broadcast journalism and/or english degrees. They know very well what words to use and what not to use. I’m in marketing and one of my biggest tools is a thesaurus. They knew very well what they were doing and to say “my wife” is Asian doesn’t justify it. Glad they suspected Breto, but to release it a second time the editorial staff is either guilty of incompetency or is complicit in the posting of the C-word.
    To say the c-word a legitimate word is to forget that “faggot” (a bundle of sticks) is a perfectly legitimate word as well, but I dare any ESPN sportscaster or employee to use that word in an article associated with a gay athlete.
    But what should I expect from ESPN in so far as proper journalism anyways.

  • Veronica Tran

    FYI – Being from Taiwan, or of Taiwanese descent IS still considered Chinese. Please get your facts straight before posting more ignorance.

  • John C. Chang

    @anyone who actually had to look up the word c***k in the dictionary: are you for real? Seriously, who doesn’t know what the word means, in either way? The fact that you had to even look it up proves you didn’t hear the word hurled at you everyday growing up. And therefore you are in no position to say whether it is offensive or not.
    And here’s my favorite: the “he has an Asian wife therefore he cannot be racist” logic. High school level of thinking at best.
    THE FACT that he has a wife who is Asian makes the mistake even MORE appalling. Think about it. A little bit harder.

    There you go, got it?

  • David Marcus

    @Willie it was 2am. He made a mistake. Period. Honestly I wonder if in your work there is such a zero tolerance for errors. He made a mistake and should be reprimanded. But no that’s not enough. You need blood. And to justify that need, the editor needs to be cast as a evil demon to rationalize your “rage”. You *have* to cast his actions as willfully hurtful. You cannot allow him the slightest ebenfit of the doubt to have made a mistake. Because if you did… if you did, you and others would have to stop throwing those stones from your glass houses.

  • Mike

    I think suspending Max Bretos for 30 days is wrong. There was no bad intent in the use of the phrase “a XXXX in the armor” as Max used it in a question. There was no snideness in Max’s body language – there was no “nudge-nudge” crap going on – it was a question that was blown out of proportion ti its intent. I think ESPN should have stood by Max – let him say something along the lines of “Hey – I’m sorry if you took that question wrong” – and then moved on. In an entire news segment a single sentence with no racial slander obvious through body language or tonal inflection by Max has now become news… There are shock-jocks that make a living using word-play to put someone down or insult them. Max is not a shock-jock.

    I think ESPN is wrong in how this was handled. There was no intent to “put Lin down” in what Max said/asked.

  • John C. Chang

    @david and David Marcus (posts 102 and 103): spot on?!?! Please get an education before you make a fool out of yourselves on the WORLDWIDE web. It is spelled TAIWANESE DESCENT. Taiwanese people are not calling themselves Chinese due to political reasons, but ethnically I am pretty sure their ancestors are from China. And even if Jeremy’s ancestors were from Taiwan for as far back as history accounts (wrong anyway as he is half Chinese half Taiwanese) is that now OK to use the C-word on him? The lengths that you guys will go to in making this a non-race issue is AMAZING. Amazing because the point is if the writer was ignorantly unaware that the c- word is offensive then he does not belong in a global organization like ESPN, and if he is aware of its offensiveness than he CERTAINLY does not belong.
    Dang, why is it so hard to get through your thick skulls?? EDUCATION!! Get one!! It’s free in most countries the last time I checked. It helps you get respect when you open your mouth or move your fingers. E-D-U-C-A-T-I-O-N!!!!!

  • sricher

    “If they said a N_ _ _ _ R in the armour, our friends Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson would have thrown a hissy fit as well as the entire community.”

    That makes no sense. They would not say that because that expression doesn’t exist…go google the phrase chink in the armor and you will see it has absolutely zero racial connotation.

  • David Marcus

    Mr. Chang. Thank you for your note. First, a suggestion, try and refrain from the capitalization. Capitals as you know in written communication is shouting and shouting is not conversation. If you believe the editor’s explanation story (NY Post) then it *is* a non-racial issue. If you don’t believe him then it is a racial issue. It is not the editor that made this a racial issue. ESPN did not make this a racial issue. Everyone else did. It’s your perception that makes it one or the other. It’s that simple. You point out correctly people self-identify in a variety of ways, politically, ethnically, economically, socially, racially. And you are entitled to your perception of offense in whatever categories you want. And you should voice your opinion when you are offended. But to attribute this episode to nefarious intent or lack of education is a stretch. (See above on perceptions.) Education can alter and enhance perception. But by your own admission you past personal experiences have a far greater effect on your perception. But if you want a personal pity parade because you were called names growing up then get in line. And it’s a loooong line. I’ll happily go head to head with you and compare our life-long slights and verbal attacks, racial, ethnically or other. I imagine we’d come out even as long as you’re not too competitive about it. _-_-_->
    If you read my previous posts regarding the lack of responsibility ESPN takes for this event (#58, 64, 73) and the vengeance you and others demand (#100, 113) then perhaps you’ll see that I agreed that it was a dumb and offensive headline. But, it did it rise to the level of a capital crime? No. Did the editor deserve reprimand? Yes. Did he deserve to be fired? No. There was not a past history of similar behaviour. The contortions you go through to rationalize your rage is amusingly sad to say the least. You admit people label themselves for a variety of reasons in this case you mention political then you jump over to remind that someone is half-this and half-that. Does that mean you are entitled to only be half offended? Don’t you think it is curious exercise to rationalize our own hate? To your specific point of the other David’s Taiwanese comment I felt he was being ironic and if I hadn’t been too quick to post I would not have had a duplicate posting deleted and that may have come through. So it was a mistake for me to try and be droll. A little ironic isn’t it? Anyway, there is apparently no wiggle room for imprecise comments right? But for the record there was no malevolence on my part. But let’s be honest, you don’t care about conversation, right? I mean you’re here to post about how mad you are and how people are so unaware and uneducated. BTW if full awareness is a requirement for work the unemployment figures would be closer to 99%. Finally, I will close by asking you as I asked Cindy. Where is the appropriate place to drawn the line in retribution for this unspeakable act? Where should we stop? I really think we all want to know what line to toe to “make it right”. I want to know where your hate ends and your compassion begins.

  • Jae

    To those that say the N-word doesnt have another meaning, yes it does. “N****dly” means stingy with money and yet, I have not seen a headline stating that a black athlete that went broke wasnt so “n—” with his money. Those that have used the word denoting cheap or stingy have been punished time and time again but I see no uproar telling African-Americans to calm down and not be so sensitive. Btw, people outside the Asian race telling Asians to calm down is absolutely appalling to me. I dont tell you how to feel and act, you dont tell me either.

    The C-word and the N-word are one in the same when it comes to racism. No matter the origins of the words, when used in connection with people of race (who have suffered at the hands of those words) it is offensive. Many racist terms have other meanings, but that doesnt mean we can use these terms, especially as it relates to people of color. I dont see how many here are defending ESPN or saying its not a big deal or people are overreacting – there is no such thing as overreacting here. If Asian-Americans are offended, then they are offended. You cannot tell them how to feel unless you walk a mile in their shoes and deal with both subtle and overt racism.

    I can never tell another minority group to chill out if they feel offended, yet I dont see how many of you (who I imagine are not Asian) are telling Asians to get over it.

  • H2Fish

    Hey Ms. Tran

    Certainly if your qualified to say a Taiwanese are of Chinese decent. Are you also saying that Yao Ming and Lin have something in common? If I am not mistaken Taiwanese People prefer to be called Taiwanese.

    I think you are confused. A history lesson for you.

    Supporters of Taiwan Independence only recognized themselves as Taiwanese, rejects and do not wish to be recognized as Chinese national or Chinese. In particular, they have emphasized that politically and legally, they are not Chinese

  • kekwowse01

    H2Fish is correct. Myself, my experience and my interactions with other Taiwanese people and as well as a survey with 20 years of tracking data on Taiwanese self identification show that Taiwanese people are increasingly prefer not to be call Chinese (Ref#1). Especially in the situation the word Chinese can be mistaken as Chinese national.

    While Ms. Tran may be from Taiwan, her comment only reflects her believe. Much like my comment can only represent myself and my experience and cannot represent the population as a whole. As a result, I encourage interested people to research further into the subject.

    Since outside links are not accepted in most places. I only provide the keyword for Google search.

    Google “esc.nccu.edu.tw/english/modules/tinyd2/content/TaiwanChineseID” for Taiwan National Chengchi University’s continuous survey on Taiwanese self identification since 1992

    Google “Emerson M. F. Jou, M.D. Are We Chinese or Taiwanese” for why some Taiwanese may be considering themselves as Chinese

    Google “Wikipedia Political_status_of_Taiwan” for the complicate political status of Taiwan

  • David Marcus

    Ms. Jae, You are 100% correct you have every right to be offended. Just as others have every right to say chill out. The funny thing about being offended about *any-thing* is that it is so hard for all of us to put the offense in perspective. And I disagree with you. There is such a thing as over-reacting. Listen to the drums politicians beat looking for the slightest offense to justify conflict. On a sports level does the angry player win out over the calm and collected one? Most times no. And on our personal level, we so much want to hang onto that rage for the raw energy release don’t we? Myself included. The question is, does that rage serve you? Beyond the energy release I find the cost to sustain that anger is too high a price to pay. All anger it needs to be channeled and when anger rises, think of the consequences. Be offended, speak to the offender as a teacher and move on. They will either learn the lesson or not. You can not make anyone learn.

  • Lee

    I would like to make a comment regarding Stephen A Smith’s reaction the the reactions towards ethnic sensitivity: Please note, I am coming from a non-sports perspective. I’ve never really watched/listened to ESPN, so I do not know the background of all the people involved. The problem is – before this anchor and writer put the slur “XXXXX” out there, weren’t there individuals that had to approve of material before it actually goes out to the public? As it shows, I am not a journalist. Also, being an Asian-American myself, my honest take is that Stephen A Smith needs to chill out a little, because right now is not about the African-Americans. There has been a long history of the African-American struggles. I’m thinking – finally, Asian-Americans are being in the spotlight and let us react the way we want to react. Give us some time too. Just because African-Americans had hundreds of years to react, doesn’t mean they were covering for all racial tensions. And I say this with all respect.

  • H2Fish

    Your comments are very well written and educational. As an Asian American, racism can exist in comments such as “those people _____, or any grouping based upon a characteristic, It is a sad day in 2012, when comments are offered to fuel and ugly situation. There is an Asian, Dallas Maverick player, Yi Jianlian #9; he is also 7 footer. It is an another opportunity to compare the two and make another uneducated generalization based upon their characteristic. No one really cares because he is not have the same degree of impact. No sooner then Yi becomes a impact player, the ugliness will likely also begins to spew out in the media. Lin’s ability to look beyond the years of derogatory comments, stop the irrelevant dialogue, and recognize he is of star quality. Is it that star quality that causes a reaction?

  • H2Fish

    Doug (107 & 108)

    Have you ever felt the ugly affects or Racism? To see your son or daughter come home because another school age student emulates what a parent demonstrates at home? Unless you have, your comments are probably very easy to write. You forgot to leave out the telling sentence, “Why don’t those people not get offended by the derogatory comments.”

    This will be my last comment, ESPN has demonstrated that they understand, and they are willing to exhibit greater sensitivity. greater sensitivity. It will take a while, but change begins with one ESPN person speaking dismissing any ethnic based comments. My comments are only to educate.

  • John C. Chang

    David Marcus, aka moderator of the Jeremy Lin discussion boards now that his comments are not being deleted by ESPN:

    I don’t know who you are, where you are from, or what you do. Nor do I care. I find it interesting that I have thus far elicited your longest and most passionate post here at ESPN but it doesn’t impress me. I wonder what your beef is with the entire discussion here: are you asian or a person who hurls insults at asians or someone who used to insult asians but now have reformed and thus gets easily perturbed at anyone making a fuss out of racism because you have tried so hard at change and it frustrates you that there are still people who makes racial comments and there are STILL people who get into a frenzy when racism rears its head? You ask me why the anger, that’s easy I was made fun of DAILY while growing up and believe me I tried to forget it but time and again things like reading the word XXXXX in the media makes me remember. You say boohoo everyone was made fun of growing up so move on, you probably were made fun of more and you got over it and so should I, blah blah blah. No. Wrong. Sorry. There is no WAY you were made fun of more than me while growing up unless you are a lesbian black and for some reason I HEAVILY doubt that. And even if you ARE that doesnt mean you have the right to tell me to get over the XXXXX word just as I don’t have the right to tell a spanish/hispanic person to get over the word XXXX. I am SURE someone of your intelligence knows this so why do I need to waste both of our times pointing this out?? I wish I had the time that you apparently do, including going back to each and every one of my posts to collect data in order to rack up your arsenal to make a full-on attack at me, and trying to point out my lovely habit of USING ALL caps as if we are STILL in linguistics 101. But I don’t. And so I won’t. But one final comment: while your criticism of ESPN for the C-word is respectable, your telling us to cut him some slack and not get so offended and to move on makes you only one notch higher on the racism ladder and puts all the hard work of your American brothers and sisters back 50 years. Grow up.

  • bw

    I have already written to ESPN, but I’m glad to add my voice to the chorus of those here who are outraged by the casual racism, not just of the ‘c—-’ headlines, but in much of the hoopla surrounding the recent breakout performances of Jeremy Lin. The apologies have been relatively swift, mostly shallow, and certainly insufficient. Jason Whitlock at Foxsports.com, Floyd Mayweather’s well-publicized comments on Twitter, legions of blogs and opposing sports fans in arenas across the country… is this not obviously a symptom of a deeper sickness?

    There seems to me to be no question that there is a double standard when it comes to racial slights and disparagements toward Asians and Asian Americans, and what’s worse, these are symptomatic of the kind of subtle racism in the power structures of major college basketball programs and the NBA that left Lin dismissed and otherwise ignored until recently. A few decent analyses (and some hilarious satire on The Daily Show and Saturday Night Live) have appeared online, so I’ll refrain from reprising them. I will only note, along with Jason Whitlock in a follow up article to his now-infamous tweet, “Until the past two weeks, Jeremy Lin was entirely unwanted by the NBA, and before that, major college basketball had little interest in him. The people who dominate American basketball on the court, on the sideline, in the executive rooms, in the stands and along press row do not look like Jeremy Lin.”

    ESPN is a part of that group that dominates American basketball in its role as the leading sports media empire, and with power comes responsibility. It’s time to go beyond apologies – even sincere ones. The issue is bigger than the fact that some of us are personally and ethnically offended. This is about structural injustice that ESPN helps to validate and reinforce, unless it takes appropriate action. I’m not talking about reprimanding, suspending, and firing people, though that will sometimes be necessary. I am talking about hiring consultants who can help them to think through how communication helps or hurts the cause of racial justice, about building an ESPN organization (not just TV faces) that is more diverse and more aware, about being a part of the solution and not part of the problem. Sports, at their best, teach us to cooperate, to work together for a common goal; they allow us to transcend distinctions of race and ethnicity and find common ground, whether playing or cheering. I know that ESPN’s main goal is to turn a profit, and I’m not suggesting they alter that goal – only that they recognize their larger place in society as well. Why not leverage their position to promote the common good?

  • J. Atkinson

    Wow, ESPN has really pulled out all the stops to address this: a paragraph on a back page of their website. ESPN, you don’ get it. Whether intentional or not (I believe it was), whether malicious or not (I don’t believe it was), the term “c—-’ is as offensive to Asian-Americans as other terms are to other ethnic groups. What are you doing to address your (corporate) ignorance or indifference towards Asians/Asian Americans? What actions are you taking to educate your staff that respect for diversity applies to all people? Why aren’t you using the voice you have to America to speak against racism and bigotry towards everyone?