Only fired ESPN editor knows truth behind his offensive Lin headline

February 20, 2012 | Luke Jones

Only fired ESPN editor knows truth behind his offensive Lin headline

It doesn’t change what happened nor does it mean Federico should have kept his job, but is it possible this was a case of a bleary-eyed individual making a horrific — but honest — mistake?

“My faith is my life,” said Federico to the Daily News, referencing how he relates to Lin’s own Christian faith. “I’d love to tell Jeremy what happened and explain that this was an honest mistake.”

Whether you ultimately believe his apology is sincere or a shoddy attempt to save face among colleagues, friends, and family and appeal for a second chance for employment in the media world is up to you.

Racism and hate very plainly exist in our world, but are we so cynical and devoid of compassion as a society to automatically assume the worst-case scenario when there is even a slight benefit of doubt to consider? Isn’t that very notion of understanding what we want to see in others?

Perhaps we should consider Lin’s own words when asked about the ESPN headline over the weekend.

“They’ve apologized, and so from my end, I don’t care anymore,” Lin said. “You have to learn to forgive, and I don’t even think that was intentional.”

No matter if it was a case of overt racism or just a brain cramp of immense proportions, Federico will live with the fallout of the headline for the rest of his life and will likely need to find a new line of work as a result.

Only he knows the truth about what really happened. It’s not my place to deem him a bigot or absolve him of guilt.

But I do know we’ve all been in positions where we’ve said or done something that either was or could have been offensive to others, even when we had no intention of doing so.

For that reason, I’m not going to pile on.

Federico has already lost plenty for his actions.

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3 Comments For This Post

  1. Bernie Says:

    Anyone who’s been around the newspaper industry in the past 25 years knows this is an example of the accidents waiting to happen when you let a bunch of unqualified people have influential roles in sports “journalism.” There was a time when the only people who worked for media outlets were trained journalists who often had to spend years doing the “dirty work” (updating box scores at 2 a.m., covering low-level high school sports, etc.) before they were even allowed to be the last set of eyes on anything that was for public consumption. Today, any kid who is willing to work for low pay can be an “editor” for one of the thousands of websites, blogs, twitter accounts, etc. that pose as modern “journalists” outlets.

    Was this a racist statement? Of course it was. But the controversy says more about the headline writer’s lack of awareness about his profession (which he apparently thought was nothing more than to make his frat brothers giggle) than his ignorance of racial sensitivity.

  2. Erich Hawbaker Says:

    Well put sir. This is another fine example of political correctness running rampant. Now, what was probably an honest mistake is still a big deal even when the guy who it was directed at doesn’t really care. The standard is no longer whether or not anybody was actually offended, but rather whether or not somebody could be. What America really doesn’t need is one more guy in the unemployment line over nonsense like this. Way to go, ESPN…

  3. Irregular Ed Says:

    Luke,

    I saw the headline “c—k In the armor” positioned above a game photo of Jeremy Lin to describe the end of the Knicks winning streak. I have also heard and read about the backlash and the resultant firings and suspensions.  

    What confuses me is, if the expression was offensive the first time it was uttered and used in print is it any less offensive when repeatedly used by those on the radio and tv damning the initial occurrences?

    It reminds me of the former Grey’s Anatomy actor Isaiah Washington’s uses of the word, “fa–ott”, in reference to a fellow actor.

    In subsequent reporting, “the F-word” or, “homophobic slur”,  was used as a descriptor. I really do not recall “fa–ott” being repeated over and over like “ch–k in the armor” is.

    Why is this being handled differently? Wrong is wrong.

    Isn’t it?

    (L.J. – The colloquialism “chink in the armor” is not offensive when it stands by itself and is a common expression used to describe a weakness. It was offensive in the context of it being used as a headline for describing Jeremy Lin and his performance. That’s the difference. If someone was simply using the first word “C—k” by itself in describing what happened, then it would be inappropriate.)

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