ESPN recently fired a columnist for a controversial headline about NBA star Jeremy Lin, according to sources. After a New York Knicks loss, the ESPN.com frontpage ran a story with the headline “Chink in The Armor,” a poor choice of words considering Lin’s Taiwanese roots. Lin was born and raised in California.
ESPN fired the writer of the headline and suspended another anchor who used the phrase. The phrase was used to describe Lin’s underwhelming performance in a loss and is a common phrase used in sports headlines.
The fired employee had been working at ESPN for six years. He claims the choice of words in the headline was an error and not a joke or a conscious decision. The headline also made it past an editor who chose to run it up on the site. The headline was up for several hours before it was removed.
ESPN did not fire the writer for several days, after the ensuing media backlash. Lin himself went on record saying he did not believe the headline was an intentional racial slur.
“I don’t think it was on purpose or whatever, but [at] the same time they have apologized. And so from my end I don’t care anymore,” Lin said. “Have to learn to forgive, and I don’t even think it was intentional. Or hopefully not.”
It seems that the columnist may have a wrongful termination case against ESPN here, which is owned by Disney. Why do you think the network waited several days to terminate the employee? This seems like a situation where they are reacting to a media backlash and trying to save face.
Kesluk, Silverstein & Jacob—California employment attorneys.