-By Warner Todd Huston
The headline written by ESPN editor Anthony Federico about Asian-American basketball star Jeremy Lin lasted only about a half hour before ESPN changed it but the fallout is lasting a bit longer for editor Federico.
On its Saturday story on Jeremy Lin’s less than stellar game the night before, ESPN’s headline screamed, “Chink in the Armor.”
Sports fans were riled at this apparent racial allusion – player Jeremy being of Asian background — and ESPN pulled the headline down quickly. In this age of Internet outrage-of-the-day stories, this one was a natural to get attention.
As the day rolled on, ESPN decided not to just change the headline but to fire its writer, editor Anthony Federico.
Today, Federico is defending himself to a degree and apologizing profusely.
“This had nothing to do with me being cute or punny,” Anthony Federico told the Daily News.
“I’m so sorry that I offended people. I’m so sorry if I offended Jeremy.”
Federico says that he had no intention of making his headline a racial pun. He claims he’s used the “chink in the armor” line “at least 100 times.” So, when he used it this time it was rote and he completely missed the racial overtones.
Federico also says that he is a Christian and is proud of Lin’s career and public expression of faith.
But, come on. Can anyone believe that Federico had absolutely no clue that his “chink” line would be seen as a pun on Lin’s Asian heritage? How could he not?
As they said at Hot Air, Federico worked in the “busiest news hive of American sports” so there is no way Federico wasn’t fully aware of Lin’s heritage. In fact he would have to have been so fully aware of it as to be saturated by the fact.
Yet, he still went for the “chink” line? And now he claims he never put two and two together?
I call BS on that. I cannot for a second believe that Federico did not realize that his “chink” line would be taken as a crack on Lin’s Asian heritage.
Now, do I think that Federico was a disgusting racist over the remark? Not really. He probably just thought it was a bit of humor. Headlines are well known for being funny when possible. Headlines must be eye catching to draw readers, too. This one works on both levels in many respects.
So, no, I don’t think Federico was being “racist.” But I do not for a second believe he didn’t realize his headline held racial overtones.
One other thing. Federico should have been fired just for using the same headline “100 times.” He’s not a very inventive writer if he recycles the same headline over and over again.