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ESPN Jeremy Lin Headline Fallout Continues

Anthony Federico, the ESPN editor fired for the now infamous “Chink in the Armor” Jeremy Lin headline, responded to the controversy today with an apology and explanation.

It never has been or will be my intention to hurt anyone.

I wrote thousands and thousands and thousands of headlines in my five years at ESPN. There never was a problem with any of them and I was consistently praised as an employee – both personally and professionally. Two weeks prior to the incident I had my first column published on espnW.com. My career was taking off. Why would I throw that all away with a racist pun? This was an honest mistake.

It is also crucial that people know that the writer of the column had nothing to do with the headline. I wrote it and now I take responsibility for it.

I am actually a Knicks fan and an ardent supporter of Jeremy Lin. Not surprisingly, he has handled the entire situation with grace and class.

Now I have to find a new job and move on with my life.

Federico seems sincere in his apology. And we have little reason to doubt he would intentionally risk his career over a bad, racist pun. But Grantland’s Jay Caspian Kang writes that, mistake or no, the headline incident stung Asian America badly. So badly, in fact, Kang considered resigning from his ESPN-owned publication.

For the growing percentage of Asian Americans who would like to see their minority status as nothing more than a curiosity, “Chink in the Armor” spotlighted what we already knew, but seldom admit: Even the most vigilant parts of our society do not treat all racism the same way. There’s no way for me, as an ESPN employee, to comment on what happened Saturday morning without compromising my integrity as a writer. I have no interest in shilling for ESPN and hope that readers will afford me the grace to not see any of this as an attempt to push an Asian American face out in front of this mess. Certainly, if that were the case, you’d never read another word with my byline on this site or on any other ESPN property.

What I can say is this: “Chink in the Armor” was completely unacceptable and made me seriously reconsider my continued employment with the company. I spent most of Saturday fielding calls, e-mails, and messages about “Chink in the Armor,” and I share in the collective anger and exasperation. The response and the apologies seem largely beside the point…

Glad Kang decided to stick around. Because his essay, as well as his other work for Grantland, is well worth the read.

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