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Another ESPN Firing on the Way? Headline Uses 'Gook' in Story About Asian Player


"Nobody who knew what they were doing would use "Gook" to mean Lee Dong-Gook"

A little over a week after an ESPN headline used "chink in the armor" for a story about Asian basketball player Jeremy Lin, ESPN might now have another headline issue to deal with -- this one dealing with the word (or rather name) "Gook."

(Related: Beck weighs in on "jellyfish capitalism" and Jeremy Lin)

In a front page headline that appeared on the company's Soccernet section on Saturday, the word -- which can be a derogatory name for Asians -- was used in reference to soccer player Lee Dong-Gook. Here's how it appeared:

The headline on the story currently reads "Lee double earns victory."

So what's the issue? Deadspin explains some of the nuance behind the headline:

We actually got a tip about it from Andy W, but dismissed it because we'd never heard of Lee Dong-Gook and figured ESPN had Westernized the order of his name (in other words, that his given name was Lee and his surname was hyphenated).

That, alas, wasn't the case. "Gook" is actually just part of Lee's given name, and not an especially descriptive one, either. Nobody who knew what they were doing would use "Gook" to mean Lee Dong-Gook, and you'll note that the article has since been changed to use Lee's surname.

In short, the common and correct way to shorten the player's name is to refer to him as Lee. Still, couldn't the writer be given the benefit of the doubt and excused for a simple slip up? Of course. However, that wasn't the grace extended to former headline writer Anthony Federico -- the man behind the Jeremy Lin headline.

Federico was fired despite much public support for him, especially considering "chink in the armor" is a popular phrase with no racist meaning behind it. So some will certainly wonder if ESPN will take action against the writer in this case, despite Gook being part of the name. There has been no official word from the company yet about the latest headline, though.

The incident, and the lack of action thus far, is especially curious considering one possible reason for ESPN's firing of Federico in the first place. According to the organization hired as ESPN's ombudsman (the Poynter Institute), one factor may have been a memo that went out to employees during the rise of Jeremy Lin that apparently told them to take extra caution. Federico wasn't cautious enough, so his intentions didn't play into his termination.

That's left many wondering: Is there a double standard? And if no firing is warranted for this latest headline, was Federico's firing justified in the first place?

(H/T: Mediaite)

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