ESPN fires employee for offensive Jeremy Lin headline [Updated]
Update: Anthony Federico, the ESPN editor fired Sunday for the controversial headline referring to Knicks guard Jeremy Lin, said he understood the firing and “ESPN did what they had to do.”
“This had nothing to do with me being cute or punny,” Federico told the Daily News. “I’m so sorry that I offended people. I’m so sorry if I offended Jeremy.”
Lin accepted the apologies of both Federico and ESPN anchor Max Bretos for their use of the racial slur.
“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 it was intentional.”
ESPN was on the defensive all weekend after the sports network let slide a racially offensive headline Friday night in reference to the New York Knicks' overnight star Jeremy Lin.
The headline appeared on ESPN’s mobile website after the New Orleans Hornets broke the Knicks' seven-game winning streak Friday, and just days after ESPN anchor Max Bretos used the phrase in an interview with Knicks legend Walt Frazier.
ESPN announced Sunday it fired the employee responsible for the headline and suspended Bretos for using the slur in reference to the Knicks' guard, a Palo Alto native of Chinese descent. (Video below.)
"We again apologize, especially to Mr. Lin," ESPN wrote. "His accomplishments are a source of great pride to the Asian-American community, including Asian-American employees at ESPN."
The company promised to be responsive to "constructive criticism" and "be better in the future" after the Asian American Defense League issued a statement asking the organization to air an apology for its "racist and inexcusable" use of the phrase.
Bretos issues his own apology via Twitter, writing that his "wife is Asian" and that he "would never intentionally say anything to disrespect her community." (Tweets below.)
Wanted 2 apologize 2 all those I have upset. Not done with any racial reference. Despite intention,phrase was inappropriate in this context.— Max Bretos (@mbretosESPN) February 19, 2012
My wife is Asian, would never intentionally say anything to disrespect her and that community.— Max Bretos (@mbretosESPN) February 19, 2012
NBC's "Saturday Night Live" skewered the fiasco in its cold open Saturday, throwing out every possible Lin pun imaginable, along with racial remarks about other NBA stars. (Video below.)
Fox Sports columnist Jason Whitlock also came under fire last weekend for his "inches of pain" tweet, but apologized immediately for being "immature, sophomoric, comedic."
MSG, which owns the Knicks, declined to comment, said spokesman Dan Schoenberg.
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