Monday, February 20, 2012


Photo courtesy of Getty Images
      Several things colluded to make the unfortunate racial slur of Jeremy Lin inevitable. Foremost is ESPN's penchant for  being cute or clever, which often they are neither.
      I've been an ESPN fan since the early Dan Patrick and Keith Olberman days. They were (are) clever and talented writers and broadcasters, but they've become role models that later generation of ESPN personnel have tried to emulate. Nothing is as good as the original and I fear that far too many ESPN studio talent have fallen into being characters or characterizations of the originals.  
      ESPN has apologized for the "chink in the armor" comment and headline. A writer has been fired and anchor Max Bretos has been suspended.  I believe Bretos when he said he meant no offense.  Same for ESPN, still it happened and it needed to be dealt with. 
      When I was a news executive I stressed that our broadcasters and our editorial process have a mind set to avoid even unintentional errors of judgement.
      Another issue of course is the silliness that so many media practitioners resort to.  Lin's sudden emergence as a star, and his historic presence have given his story saturation and in my opinion over coverage.  Add silly to poor judgement and the slur occurred.
      However, the valuable bottom line to this matter is Jeremy Lin himself.  He has evinced great class and dignity in saying he has forgiven and moved on. So should we all.  Still
I hope ESPN anchors and writers realize that when trying so hard to be cute and clever they occlude the reason most of 
us are watching-for the athletes, the competition and the highlights.  We are not there to see well dressed anchors fawn, peacock and prattle with puns and overwriting.  Cut to the chase.  You lads and ladies are merely our conduits to the action.
Spring blooms have come to California's Central coast.
For those of you still locked in winter,
enjoy the preview of what is on the way to you.

See you down the trail.


  1. Lovely florals, Tom.

    As for the "chink in the armor" comment, I could believe the anchor because so many of today's chattering classes are so poorly educated that he may not even have realized he was saying something wrong.

  2. You just never know how your words will be taken.
    I call it the impact effect.

  3. California wildflowers brighten the outlook for warmer days here in Hoosierland, Tom.

    I think with so many serious things going on in the world that do not get airtime, even in the realm of sports, we have become a society that places cleverness over thoughtful insight, generalizations over depth and analysis and trivia and amusements over hard news. While I appreciate genuine personality, anchors and reporters seem to value celebrity and zaniness over a reputation for solid reporting and content substance. While the late Heywood Hale Bruhn might have turned an artistic phrase or colorful metaphor, he painted a picture and did not try to be a comedian. David Brinkley was a good punster, too, but he had self-control, which today's talking heads apparently lack.

  4. Bruce-You may be right about not even being aware. Frightening eh?

    Amy-the impact effect is well stated. You are a conscientious producer/writer and would
    never have let that kind of error of judgement happen.

    Jed-your analysis is spot on. Thanks for reminding be of the great Heywood Hale Bruhn. He and Brinkley were of an era when writing and intelligent thought was important. And you know, they were also good television personalities.

  5. As a former sportswriter, I fully agree with your denigration of the easy quips and puns that pepper and often lead sports stories, which aim attention toward the writer rather than to the story's subject. (Full disclosure: I did it, too, in my early 20s.) I agree also and specifically that we've heard and read enough about the phenomenon of Jeremy Lin; let's just enjoy his amazing skills and move on to the extra pleasure of speculating about what opponents will do to slow him down.
    ---SK Figler (

  6. I agree with Bruce that the commentor might not have realized what he'd said, but the people who printed it in the paper the next day certainly did.