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Glenn Beck, who has built his own TV-style news network online, used a controversy involving basketball star Jeremy Lin and ESPN to excoriate ABC News, which he described as untrustworthy and paralyzed by political correctness.
ESPN, which, like ABC, is owned by Disney, fired a headline writer who wrote “Chink in the armor” at the top of a story about New York Knicks sensation Lin, who is of Chinese and Taiwanese descent. The story was about a weakness — specifically turnovers — that Lin may have displayed in his basketball prowess.
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ESPN also suspended anchor Max Bretos for 30 days for saying “chink in the armor” on air, and on Monday Beck played the audio of Bretos making the comment.
“We’re talking a little about freedom of speech, and let’s go to an unusual place: ESPN,” Beck said on his radio show Monday, listened to by an estimated 10 million people a week.
After making fun of ESPN for a while, Beck segued into some unrelated stories but also about racial insensitivity: Iran canceled a soccer game against a Serbian team when they discovered their coach was Israeli, and a 7-year-old boy in the U.K. was deemed a racist for asking a classmate, “are you brown because you come from Africa?”
His point was that stories such as those, and other examples he gave, are ignored or downplayed at ABC News where employees are ruled by fear of offending special-interest groups.
“Play that audio from ESPN one more time. Does this sound like a hate monger?” Beck said.
Video of Beck’s radio segment Monday is below.
“Is ESPN still owned by ABC? Oh, yeah. ABC will bow down – bow down — to any organization. Any organization. They will protect the mouse,” Beck said.
“A 30-day suspension? I wish I had a sports department. I would hire this guy in a heartbeat. He is not making a racist comment,” Beck said.
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“Do you really think you’re gonna get the truth from an organization that on the sports side will fire somebody for that? You think any – any – newsperson worth their salt will step out of line and give any other view than the accepted view? Anybody gonna take a chance? No way. No way,” Beck said.
“Now, try to get them to say something actually important,” he said. “Try to get them to say something actually risky. You think they’re actually going to do that? Look how they have corrupted the system.”
ESPN on Saturday issued an apology for the “chink-in-the-armor” headline and promised “a complete review of our cross-platform editorial procedures.”
The following day, it apologized again and announced that the headline writer “has been dismissed” and that Bretos has been suspended. The second apology also referred to something a commentator said on ESPN Radio, though in that instance ESPN didn’t specify who it was apologizing for or what he or she said that was offensive.
Meanwhile, Bretos has taken to Twitter a couple of times to clarify his “chink in the armor” comment.
“Wanted 2 apologize 2 all those I have upset. Not done with any racial reference. Despite intention, phrase was inappropriate in this context,” he tweeted.
“My wife is Asian, would never intentionally say anything to disrespect her and that community,” he said in a subsequent tweet.
And the headline writer, 28-year-old Anthony Frederico, told the Daily News that “ESPN did what they had to do.”
“I’d love to tell Jeremy what happened and explain that this was an honest mistake,” Federico said.
And Lin has also weighed in on the controversy.
“They’ve apologized, and so from my end, I don’t care anymore,” he said. “You have to learn to forgive, and I don’t even think that was intentional.”
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