ESPN took swift action, firing one employee and placing another on probation because of an ethnic slur that embarrassed the network.
But “Saturday Night Live” was faster, satirizing the conversation that has surrounded the meteoric rise of the New York Knicks’ Jeremy Lin, the NBA’s first American-born player of Chinese or Taiwanese descent. A Harvard graduate who was undrafted, his success has been a dominant news story ever since the Super Bowl ended. Since then, just about every single pun involving his last name (“Linderella story,” “Linsanity”) and ethnic origin has been made, with some comments crossing the line.
(Video after the jump.)
That’s where ESPN got into trouble. After the Knicks’ winning streak ended Friday night and Lin had nine turnovers, a racial slur appeared in a headline for about 30 minutes on the network’s mobile site early Saturday morning. ESPN executives quickly apologized Saturday and promised to take action. On Sunday, they did, just as the Knicks were preparing to play a nationally televised game. (The Knicks beat the Dallas Mavericks 104-97 with Lin scoring 28 points and adding 14 assists.)
In addition to firing the employee responsible for the headline, ESPN says it became aware of two other “offensive and inappropriate” comments on its platforms. ESPN News anchor Max Bretos was suspended for 30 days for using the expression earlier in the week and, according to ESPN, a similar reference was made Friday on ESPN Radio in New York. However, that commentator is not an ESPN employee
“We again apologize, especially to Mr. Lin,” ESPN said in a statement on its Web site said. “His accomplishments are a source of great pride to the Asian-American community, including the Asian-American employees at ESPN. Through self-examination, improved editorial practices and controls, and response to constructive criticism, we will be better in the future.”
“SNL” had the last word, in its cold opening and, really, one can only hope it is the last word.
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