ESPN fires employee who wrote offensive Jeremy Lin headline, suspends Max Bretos

ESPN announced Sunday that they fired the employee responsible for the offensive Jeremy Lin headline that appeared on their mobile website after Friday’s game. They also announced that TV anchor Max Bretos was suspended 30 days for using the same phrase during an on-air interview.

ESPN has acted swiftly two days in a row in response to the controversy. They apologized early Saturday morning, hours after the headline appeared on their site. A day later they fired one employee and suspended the other.

The firing was the right way to handle things. At worst, the headline was intentionally racist. At best, the employee had no idea about the word’s offensive meaning. Either way, you can’t have someone who doesn’t know better writing headlines for your company.

ESPN apologizes for Jeremy Lin headline, has made the same mistake before

It may be time for the folks over at ESPN to permanently retire the phrase you see in the screen grab above. If their writers and anchors simply don’t use it, they might be able to avoid major controversies. Early Saturday morning, an extremely insensitive headline was posted ESPN.com’s mobile web site after the Knicks suffered their first loss since Jeremy Lin took over as starting point guard.

What is particularly surprising about the situation is that this isn’t the first time ESPN has gotten into trouble with the exact same headline. Back in 2008, the same phrase appeared on ESPN.com during Team U.S.A.’s gold medal run at the Beijing Olympics. In addition, ESPN anchor Max Bretos snuck the phrase in when discussing Lin and the Knicks on the air Wednesday night.

Another ESPN anchor later apologized for what Bretos said on television. You would think between that and the backlash they faced three years ago, the World Wide Leader would have learned their lesson. Apparently neither incident was at the forefront of their thinking on Saturday morning. It took ESPN about 30 minutes to realize they had made a major mistake with their latest headline, which led to the following apology on their media website.

Last night, ESPN.com’s mobile web site posted an offensive headline referencing Jeremy Lin at 2:30 am ET. The headline was removed at 3:05 am ET. We are conducting a complete review of our cross-platform editorial procedures and are determining appropriate disciplinary action to ensure this does not happen again. We regret and apologize for this mistake.

As you can see, this has become a recurring theme for ESPN. The use of this particular phrase certainly isn’t doing their public relations department any favors.

ESPN Mobile calls Knicks’ loss ‘Chink in the armor’ (Picture)

MSG had already toed the line of racism when they showed a picture (or fan’s sign) of Jeremy Lin’s face above a fortune cookie Wednesday. ESPN has gone clear past that line and straight into the offensive with the above headline seen on their mobile website late Friday/early Saturday (click twice to enlarge the image).

That’s right, some person either wasn’t thinking, or was trying to be blatantly racist, and called the Knicks’ 89-85 home loss to the Hornets a “Chink in the armor.”

Chink of course is a derogatory term for a Chinese or Asian person. Jeremy Lin is of Taiwanese descent, and the Knicks lost for the first time with him as their starting point guard.

There is no way around this headline. I checked ESPN’s website from my Android phone and saw it too. Someone is definitely going to be reprimanded for the horribly offensive headline. Not even Floyd Mayweather would have said something that offensive (at least we hope not).

Here’s another look at the headline as it appeared on an iPhone:

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ESPN’s NFL Coverage Will Focus More on Xs and Os Than Off-Field Stories

One of the criticisms of ESPN’s coverage of the NFL is that they focus on too many off-the-field issues. Don’t know what we’re talking about? Just watch this video from 2008.

I don’t entirely blame ESPN for this issue. Sometimes television networks like ESPN need talking points to fill their air time. They do that by venturing into off-field stories, discussing trade rumors, or running anonymously-sourced stories. That sort of coverage can become annoying for traditional sports fans, but it’s a somewhat understandable trade-off for having comprehensive coverage. Luckily for us ESPN has realized that football sells itself and their coverage this year may try to reflect that.

Speaking with SI’s media columnist Richard Deitsch, ESPN senior coordinating producer for the NFL, Seth Markman, says the plan is to focus more on Xs and Os. “The last few years, the one area I wanted to focus on was getting a little bit back on the field,” said Markman. “Some of it was the last few years there were so many off-the-field stories that it took us in a lot of different directions. When I looked at the shows, I found that we could do a better job of getting people ready for their games. If that means being a little more Xs and Os this year, then I think we can do that.”

This will definitely be a welcomed change for most sports fans. I understand why ESPN has had a problem with this in the past. Other sports are different from football — there isn’t an inherent interest in day-to-day NBA, MLB, NHL or college basketball games — so off-field story lines are needed to heighten interest. With the NFL, people love it for what it is. Many fans are educated about their teams and follow the sport closely. B.S. stories aren’t needed. If the Worldwide Leader sticks to Markman’s words, all viewers will benefit.

Dana White Blasts ESPN, Says They Always Hated UFC

Dana White is trying to build an empire. To this point, he has done a pretty fantastic job.  White insists the UFC will eventually go mainstream, and the new deal he signed with Fox is a great starting point for making good on that guarantee.  Not surprisingly, the UFC negotiated with a number of major networks before coming to an agreement with Fox.  One of those networks was, of course, ESPN.

If you asked White you would swear ESPN had no intention of ever hooking up with the leader in mixed martial arts.  In fact, White can’t stand ESPN and insists they never liked the UFC to begin with.

“@nickmontiel4ufc ESPN always hated us and they hate us more now that we are on FOX,” White wrote on Twitter. “They cancelled my int next week for UFC Rio (expletive) ESPN.”

On the contrary, MMA Payout Writer Jose Mendoza says that the UFC and ESPN came extremely close to a deal before Dana White settled on Fox.

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ESPN the Book Likely to Become a Movie

The ESPN book ESPN: Those Guys Have All The Fun was a big success following its release in May. It rose to 256 on Amazon’s bestseller rankings and was second in their TV and sports broadcasting categories. The book became so popular that movie studios reportedly are fighting over its film rights.

According to Deadline.com, 20th century FOX is closing a deal for the screen rights to the book. Deadline reports “The studio will develop a feature about the formation of the 24-hour sports network. The pic will be produced by Michael De Luca, Trigger Street’s Dana Brunetti and Julie Yorn.”

Deadline writer Mike Fleming adds that “The book created a stir in the film community when ICM began shopping it in recent weeks. I’m told there is interest from scribes and directors, and the studio and producers will start right away looking for someone to figure out the movie.”

Film producers reportedly envision the movie being similar to The Social Network for its aspects of back-stabbing and ego-driven characters. We could easily see that happening. However, it is important to keep in mind that not all scripts or film rights that are purchased end up being created; nothing really came of the Colin Cowherd sitcom.

Still, people love intra-office drama and gossip, and the book was loaded with it. It wouldn’t be surprising to see this turned into a movie. At least it should be more appealing to the sports crowd than Moneyball, which is only about a decade too late.

Thanks to Joey Kaufman for the tip

ESPN Joins MLB in Ripping Frank McCourt’s Handling of the Dodgers

Before we go any further I’d like to make one thing clear: Frank McCourt is the worst thing to happen to the Dodgers in the past 10 years and I can’t wait for him to lose the team. He’s a horrible person who seriously lacks any moral standard, and he never deserved to own the team. The best thing McCourt could do for the franchise is give up his legal fight and allow MLB to completely seize the team.

Even though I can’t wait for the Dodgers to have new owners, it was quite surprising to see all the anti-McCourt propaganda ESPN ran on Sunday Night Baseball. Prior to the Dodgers and Angels game Sunday, Tim Kurkjian did an excellent piece on the history of the Dodgers. His point was that the franchise and fans deserve much better than the treatment they’ve received from McCourt. Then during the game, ESPN ran the following (commercial? documentary?) video that had an identical theme:

For anyone who’s watched Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN, it was quite shocking to hear them editorialize during the middle of a game. As I said before, I fully support their message and would love to see the face of the franchise, Vin Scully, deliver a similar message. But their McCourt bashing didn’t stop there — it continued during the inning.

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