WEEI Has Zero Credibility on Jeremy Lin/ESPN Issue

Station Shows Mind-blowing Lack of Self-Awareness

The incident over the weekend in which an ESPN.com editor was fired for using the headline “Chink in the Armor” on a story about the New York Knicks and sensation Jeremy Lin losing their first game since Lin became a starter has been a hot topic everywhere this week.

Naturally the topic has been discussed on WEEI, and while the hosts discussing the issues do manage some thoughtful commentary, it is completely invalidated by the embarrassing lack of self-awareness or just plain willful ignorance the station has shown in ignoring their own history in the same area.

Yesterday, Glenn Ordway was talking about the subject, and how he believes that Anthony Federico should not have been fired, and that media outlets and society in general are too quick to just fire or suspend people when mistakes are made. (I tend to agree.)

Ordway argued that instead of firing or suspending that the time should be taken for the topic to be discussed, and thus educate people on why such things are offensive, and perhaps all could benefit and heal from the lessons learned. Sounds good.

Then Ordway presented his example. He cited when Bob Ryan was suspended from the Boston Globe for a month in 2003 for saying in a discussion about the self-promoting ways of Joumana Kidd, (which included using her son as a TV prop) that someone needed to “smack her.” Ordway opined Ryan was not advocating domestic violence (again, I agree) and that  instead of being suspended and silenced on the matter, that Ryan should have been given the opportunity to explain himself, perhaps in a column, and that dialogue should’ve been opened on the topic, and that discussing the matter would help in healing.

All sounds perfectly reasonable. But why choose to criticize the Globe for its handling of the matter, and ignore his own employer’s handling of a matter that much more closely resembles the Lin matter because it was tied to race? I’m speaking of course, about the Metco incident in which John Dennis and Gerry Callahan were each suspended for two weeks later in 2003, (so after the Ryan incident) for a racially insensitive comment.

At the time of the incident, Ordway and WEEI would not discuss the matter at all. It became a running joke that Ordway would always decline to talk about it because he claimed he hadn’t heard the tapes of the incident, and in fact that the tapes had been “lost.”

So apparently the Globe should’ve allowed the Ryan incident to be discussed and dialogue opened on the matter, but not when WEEI hosts made insensitive comments?In the time that I listened yesterday, Metco was not brought up at all. Perhaps it was, and I didn’t hear it, but in the time I listened, it was not brought up, so it certainly was not a significant part of the discussion.

It says a couple of things about Ordway, either he’s protecting his WEEI colleagues (likely) or he doesn’t put it in the same category as the Federico and Ryan incidents. That too can go two ways; does Ordway believe that what D&C said was not intentionally insensitive? Or does he believe it WAS intentional, but not insensitive?

Either way, to completely ignore an incident that occurred on your own airwaves and instead mention something from another media outlet, is completely disingenuous.

I listened to some of Dennis and Callahan this morning, and their commentary on the matter. They referenced the ESPN Ombudsman column from Poynter, and some of the comments from Stephen A. Smith on the matter (who was actually very good) and generally went with the view that Federico as well as Max Bretos and Spero Dedes, who also used the term, all did so without any malicious racial intentions whatsoever. Their conclusion seems to be basically that this is another example of the politically correct world gone mad. (So those who used the term are the persecuted victims here.)

Even when a caller who claimed to be Asian-American attempted to explain that the term, no matter how it was used was offensive to him, even though he believed it not to be used in an intentionally malicious manner by any of them. He added though, that the people involved should not have been fired, but reprimanded.

Dennis and Callahan basically both invalidated the feelings of the caller and anyone who could claim to be offended by the matter. They insist that no one would ever intentionally use that phrase referencing someone with an Asian background in a racist manner. That it would just be stupid to do so. Which is true. However, what the caller, and other callers tried to explain, (unsuccessfully to D&C) is that even if it the phrase was not racially motivated, it was, at the very least, being used as a double entendre, which means race entered into it, perhaps without actually realizing that it was as offensive as it was.

Intentional or not, using the phrase in the manner in which it was, to reference Jeremy Lin, is not acceptable.

Once again, I did not hear the Metco incident brought up at all, except indirectly by a caller, who stated that he felt that D&C’s stance on this matter was not surprising at all, he then attempted to bring up Metco, and Callahan loudly shouted over him to obfuscate the caller so that he wasn’t heard at all, and then called it a “cheap shot.”

How in the world was it a “cheap shot” to bring up an incident which was exactly relevant to the discussion they were having at that moment, and involved the very hosts of the show?

When you think about Dennis’ comments after the Metco incident (quoted in the article linked above), you can see why the incident is especially relevant. He called it “the single stupidest thing I’ve ever said in 26 years of broadcasting in Boston.”

“I’ve heard people who know nothing about me evaluate my character, analyze my heart, dissect my brain, and pronounce me a lost and despicable soul,” Dennis wrote. “I understand their anger, and, frankly, I deserve much of what I’m getting.”

So why is it so hard for them to understand why Asian people would be angry over the comments made about Lin? D&C would’ve been better served trying to explain how “the single stupidest thing” can slip out at the worst time, but that the anger generated is still understandable and deserved.

Instead, they did their best to hide from the incident and shout over a caller who attempted to introduce it into the discussion.

This gives them, and the entire station, zero credibility when discussing how the Jeremy Lin incident was handled by ESPN.

  • tl;138

    What do you want, Bruce? Do you want Ordway and D&C fired over something that happened in 2003? When are you moving on from this? You always bring up the D&C gorilla comment to bash EEI when convenient. Yep, they were wrong. Yep, they were punished (not sufficiently in your opinion but…it's just that…your opinion).

    It was NINE years ago, Bruce. Let it go.

    • TjM

      "It was NINE years ago, Bruce. Let it go. "

      As was Ordways Ryan incident. Try re-reading what Bruce wrote. Then maybe work on comprehension

    • http://www.bostonsportsmedia.com Bruce Allen

      You didn’t even read it.
      You clearly have no idea was I said. Let me guess, it was too long for you. You clearly didn’t read it and just fired off an ignorant comment that shows that you didn’t read it.

      Did I say they should be fired? Did I say they weren’t punished enough? No. So you’re wrong on both of those.

      Ordway brought up the Ryan story which happened BEFORE the Metco incident. He’s bringing up nine-year-old incidents.

      Let me boil it down for you. WEEI cannot judge how another outlet handles these types of issues based on their own handling of an in-house incident. This post explains why they’re hypocrites. I didn’t call for any punishment or discipline. I said they lost the right to tell anyone else how things should be handled.

      • HighWireNickEsasky

        Too short; too dumb to understand

      • Winning

        Don't mind the troll Bruce. His role on this site is to be a nuisance.

    • NutCracker

      Did you read the same column I just read? I didn't read that Bruce asked for Ordway and D&C to be fired.

  • APimpNamedDaveR

    You make many good points here, Bruce, and I agree with your thesis. But in point of fact, the D&C incident was very different than ChinkInTheArmorGate, and isn't comparable at all. As the Poynter article discusses, CITAG was sloppy use of a cliched phrase that had a double meaning in the context of Jeremy Lin, but which wouldn't have triggered any notice whatsoever had it been a comment about, say, Michael Vick playing poorly for the Eagles.

    Dennis and Callahan's comments were direct, overt, incontrovertible racism. There was no "mistake" there. The only "mistake" was saying what they thought on the air — their comments were knowing, intentional, and had only one meaning inherent to them. D&C was much, much, MUCH worse than what ESPN did. If the ESPN headline had been "Me So Solly, Chinee-Chinee Boy Not Play Defensee Good: Knicks Drop Game to Hornets on Defensive Miscues by Lin" — now we're on D&C grounds.

    So you're correct, Bruce, in your view that EEI has no credibility whatsoever on this issue, but not because they refuse to address the D&C issue. It's because D&C still work for that station after intentionally making such nakedly racist slurs on the air. Clearly it doesn't matter what's said on their airwaves so long as people listen. And D&C get good ratings — because I doubt many, if any, of the D&C listeners were taken aback by what they said, and many probably thought it wasn't offensive at all.

    • John

      In Dennis & Callahan’s defense, there was an incident at that time in Lexington where a black kid who was a resident there and was mistaking for a METCO student and driven into Boston on the wrong bus. That incident may not have been their intention for the joke but it does bring up the double meaning possibility that was referenced in the Lin headline. What I found more hypocritical than this was last week when Ordway was criticizing Jason Whitlock for his insensitive remarks. You don’t get to do that when you play the “Have you seen my baseball” soundbite every time John from Medford calls them.

      • APimpNamedDaveR

        First, the incident was in Wellesley. It was a kindergartner in an after school program who was put on a METCO bus by mistake. And at the time, the gist of the coverage was "did these people just assume that any black kid in Wellesley was METCO?" — i.e. the precursor was also a racial issue.

        Second, that's a defense? Because there's a similar issue, it's okay to say that a gorilla would be mistaken for a METCO student and bussed to Lexington? Where's the mistake? "Chink in the armor" is a phrase that has meaning independent of any racial connotations. Does METCO bus gorillas around Boston, such that confusing a gorilla and a black METCO student is a "slip of the tongue" or a "double meaning" issue? That's patently idiotic.

        Also, let's not forget that EEI did NOTHING until BC/BS of MA pulled advertising revenue because D&C hadn't been punished. Then they got their slap on the wrist. Again, this just further supports Bruce's point — EEI has no credibility on this issue.

        But I'm going a step further than him: I'm saying, explicitly, that EEI has no credibility because WEEI deliberately, as a programming strategy, caters to the racist inbred moron faction of the area's sports fans. They are intentionally attracting listeners who likely not only don't find the gorilla comment (or, arguably, the ESPN Lin comment) offensive, but agree with those characterizations.

  • Angry Old Bastard

    WEEI (and D&C to be more exact) have wiped the "Metco Gorrilla" incident from their memory banks…..no way in hell were they going to bring it up even though it was a comparable incident…..

  • APimpNamedDaveR

    Also, let's all be honest here: until Josh Beckett apologizes for ESPN's comments, none of us will be satisfied.

    • Brett

      Ha!

  • bowltr

    It's so obvious tl;138 is a WEEI employee!

  • lj sandwich

    I listened to those two idiots this morning as well. It's amazing when Callahan speaks in absolutes…"There was no intention by Federico…."….how the hell does he know? He did the same with their heroic rants about Jerry Sandusky…"Paterno KNEW…McQueary KNEW…Curley KNEW…blah, blah, blah…" There is only one side to every story when it comes to Callahan…his side.

    Don't think those two creeps aren't still painfully thin-skinned over the METCO story. I made one reference about it in a reply to John Dennis on twitter and he blocked me within seconds.

    • bsmfan

      I was going to say that the argument, summarized above, reminded me of Sandusky. I can't take anything away from how disgusting Sandusky sounds and the harm he did to everyone involved, if true, but that's what a trial is for.

      To their benefit, most of the radio hosts around here did.

      If you asked for folks to give someone the benefit that a trial does, no matter the crime, you were accused of saying Sandusky is innocent or everyone was lying. Or that you abused kids. Or that you didn't care about children. Or that you supported child abuse. Something…

      When rule of law goes, it's probably too late, but a scary though…

      The harm in this is that folks who should be considered credible by being allowed on the air, even if you disagree with their argument, were perverting the system.. that's more scary than all of it.

    • NorwoodZip

      8 days after the arraignment and still not a word about the Granite Links Developer Diddler from the 2 guys who are more concerned about child abuse than anyone else on the radio because they told me so.

  • bsmfan

    Does anyone know if SportsHub (T R and now F M) are being subjected to some company/corporate retreat? It seems like everyone has been or is gone this week.

    2-6 today on SportsHub was "FratBoi Power Hour" staring "I'm 32 but my mind is still Beta Theta Pi, word, yo". Sometimes I wonder if DA is Jim Rome's illegitimate son.

    Thankfully, ESPNRadio didn't relegate itself to such garbage.

    • Jackson

      With it being a vacation week for schools in MA, a lot of parents take their families away this week or simply take the week off to be with their kids. Similar to the week between Christmas and New Year's Day.

    • http://twitter.com/theaisleseatcom @theaisleseatcom

      Usually I wouldn't care, but I confess that between the update guy with massive tats resembling an NBA player, Bertrand's girth and D.A. co-hosting, this week's Felger and Mazz fill-ins have appearances best suited to radio.

  • whitey b

    There's a bit of revisionist history here. Ryan was given the opportunity by a stunned cohost to retract/revise his comments about smacking Mrs. Kidd. He then REPEATED his desire to hit a woman. Fat man's a freak. Speaking as someone who strangled a few ladies in my time, Ryan was totally out of line.

  • bsmfan

    So, the Bill Simmons column:
    http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/7604660/the-d

    Seems to be making some rounds here and in the national media. Simmons opens the piece with:

    "[We see a wide shot of a crowded restaurant, followed by people halfheartedly applauding and someone stepping up to the podium.]

    Glenn Ordway: "Hello, everyone, and welcome to the four-year anniversary party for Danny Ainge's last good move! I'm Glenn Ordway, one of the co-hosts of 'The Big Show,' WEEI's drive-time afternoon show. You might know me for my declining ratings and limited appeal, which happened not just because of my advancing age, but because the Bruins took off locally … in other words, I'm just like the Celtics! [Everyone laughs.] Danny, we're here tonight because you haven't made a good move in four solid years. Do you remember what that was?"

    "

    Simmons not a fan of Ordway?

    • Winning

      Simmons and Ordway have been that goes back a long time. Only time Simmons has appeared on WEEI in the last few years was on D&C.