The ESPN editor fired Sunday for using “chink in the armor” in a headline about Knicks phenom Jeremy Lin said the racial slur never crossed his mind – and he was devastated when he realized his mistake.
“This had nothing to do with me being cute or punny,” Anthony Federico told the Daily News.
“I’m so sorry that I offended people. I’m so sorry if I offended Jeremy.”
The editor has used the phrase 100 times before, but apparently that doesn’t matter:
Federico, 28, said he understands why he was axed. “ESPN did what they had to do,” he said.
He said he has used the phrase “at least 100 times” in headlines over the years and thought nothing of it when he slapped it on the Lin story.
Federico called Lin one of his heroes – not just because he’s a big Knicks fan, but because he feels a kinship with a fellow “outspoken Christian.”
“My faith is my life,” he said. “I’d love to tell Jeremy what happened and explain that this was an honest mistake.”
Any honest person would have to agree it is totally unreasonable under the circumstances to take Federico’s mistake as a racial slur. It would be absurd to interpret the headline as mocking Lin.
Part of the reason we feel for the editor is that we believe him when he says the offensive connotation never even occurred to him.
It’s not as if a colleague had come up to him before the story ran and said: “You realize Lin’s Chinese, right? And that ‘chink’ is an offensive term for a Chinese person?” and Federico had used the term anyway.
It’s not as if he had a little smirk on his face as he hit “send.”
It’s not as if he deliberately chose the phrase to make an obscure point about language interpretation.
It’s not as if it really had been intended as an offensive pun all along.
If any of these things had been true, an interesting question might have been presented as to whether it would be reasonable to take the headline as a slur.
But in today’s world, none of this matters. Instead, we see our Culture of Outrage run rampant. And perhaps the worst part is that Federico himself accepts his punishment as just. They “did what they had to do.”
No, they didn’t, Mr. Federico. Your entire career was offered up as a sacrifice to the God of Political Correctness, who is appeased — for now.
But He will demand His due again. And He will not be ignored.