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The Early Lead
Posted at 02:23 PM ET, 02/18/2012

ESPN apologizes for offensive headline that appeared on Jeremy Lin, Knicks story

ESPN has apologized for a headline that included a racial slur after Jeremy Lin and the New York Knicks lost to the New Orleans Hornets on Friday night, ending a seven-game winning streak that had sparked “Linsanity” over the unheralded Asian-American player’s rise to stardom.

ESPN said that its headline appeared for about 30 minutes on its mobile site and was visible on tablets after Lin scored 26 points and had nine turnovers in the Knicks’ loss.

“Last night, ESPN.com’s mobile Web site posted an offensive headline referencing Jeremy Lin at 2:30 am ET,” the network said in a statement. “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 multiple Web sites reported, an ESPN anchor used the same phrase on Wednesday in an interview with Walt Frazier about any possible deficiencies in Lin’s game. And the same headline appeared on the site during the Beijing Olympics. It’s a slur that Lin said he heard during his playing days at Harvard.

This, though, was the capper in a week in which, while Lin was smashing stereotypes, the MSG Network showed a fan with a sign that carried a photo illustration of him in a fortune cookie, Fox Sports columnist Jason Whitlock apologized for tweeting a joke that contained a racial insult and the New York Post drew criticism for an “AMASIAN” headline after Lin’s game-winning shot in Toronto.

Rob King, ESPN vice-president and editor-in-chief for digital media, said ESPN was “fixing the failed process & addressing discipline” and apologized via Twitter: “There’s no defense for the indefensible. All we can offer are our apologies, sincere though incalculably inadequate.”

Michael Kim, a “SportsCenter” anchor, tweeted: “Thought I was annoyed when I was awakened from deep sleep. Then I checked text msgs/Twitter. Unacceptable. Extremely disappointed.”

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By  |  02:23 PM ET, 02/18/2012

 
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