A "Shining" Example Of Ignorance: Gothamist Writer Just Won't Let The "Chink In The Armor" Thing Die

A writer for the website Gothamist thought it would be a good idea to make a reference to the "chink in the armor" firestorm, and incorporate it into a positive story about Jeremy Lin making the cover of Sports Illustrated two weeks in a row. The subject should be off limits to all journalists.

Oh no, he didn’t.

Or, as the Twitter user known as “Angry Asian Man” (hat tip to him) wrote as soon as he discovered it, “Oh hell no.”

Yep. Apparently, Ben Yakas is a charter member of the Anthony Federico School Of Journalism.

By now, you’re aware of Federico’s decision to use the phrase “chink in the armor” as a headline on ESPN’s mobile website for a story about the Knicks’ first loss in the “Linsanity” era, in a game in which Jeremy Lin contributed nine turnovers.

This morning, in penning a piece for the website Gothamist on Lin’s achievement of making the cover of Sports Illustrated for two weeks in a row – a feat only managed by a dozen individuals before him, two of them being other NBA players – Yakas thought it would be a great idea to make a callback to the “armor” absurdity of last week and include a boneheaded reference to it in the very first sentence of his post.

“For the second week in a row, Knicks “chink in shining armor” Jeremy Lin is on the cover of Sports Illustrated,” the post began. “Does that mean he’s double-cursed, or does this negate the first jinx?”

Here’s my question: Does this doubling-down on the “chink in the armor” controversy ensure Ben Yakas will be run out of the media business, let alone the sports media?

Based on Yakas’ body of work, it appears he’s written about things other than just Jeremy Lin. For instance, one of the other items he authored today bears the headline, “Teacher Arrested For Repeatedly Hitting And Sitting On 12-Year-Old.”

You know – typical New York things… the website is called Gothamist, after all.

Which means typical New Yorkers – some of which may happen to be Asian – may be browsing the website to find out what trouble their fellow New Yorkers may be causing.

Only in this case, it was Yakas – whose Twitter profile shows him as residing in “NYC” – causing the trouble at the offices of Gothamist.

His original post, “chink in shining armor” intact, was up for all of four hours before “Angry Asian Man” took notice. “Did this Gothamist writer really just call Jeremy Lin a “chink in shining armor?,” he asked, linking to the piece. He later posted a screenprint of the original article, which appears to show the “chink in shining armor” sentence linked to another article on the website – probably the one about Federico parting ways with ESPN, written by none other than Ben Yakas.

So not only is he an idiot, but he’s an opportunist on top of it.

“I get that it’s a reference to the ESPN headline,” tweeted “Angry Asian Man,” adding that such a callback is “still stupid.”

I agree with this view, but I’ll go one further – it was stupid to even allude to the “chink in the armor” mess to begin with. Once we heard Federico’s side of the story, this should be a dead issue. Period. (And as a follow-up to a previous Media Rantz post, yes, regarding the utterance of the term on New York radio following the Knicks’ loss to the Hornets on Friday night, analyst Spero Dedes has indeed been disciplined – so that should have been the last we heard of news regarding this ill-fated idiom.)

As you would expect, the “chink in shining armor” has been removed from Yakas’ piece as soon as it was brought to the attention of Jake Dobkin, the publisher of Gothamist. “It seems a poorly written reference to the ESPN scandal, but without racist intent,” he tweeted.

Again, my view is that it was a poor decision to even dig up this skeleton in the first place. Yakas obviously was melding that negative term with another, more positive phrase, “knight in shining armor.”

He also grossly misunderstood the adage that two wrongs don’t make a right.

So, for his troubles, Yakas will be – or hopefully, already has been – “severely reprimanded,” at the request of the publisher.

And if you think that’s going to be the worst of it, think again.

“Just wait until his boss, Jen Chung, gets back from her sick day tomorrow,” Dobkin tweeted to a follower. “It’s going to be a bloodbath.”

Something tells me Yakas is going to contemplate taking a sick day of his own tomorrow.

He may as well use them up as long as he’s still employed by Gothamist – because it looks like he no longer will be very soon.

One comment on “A "Shining" Example Of Ignorance: Gothamist Writer Just Won't Let The "Chink In The Armor" Thing Die

  1. J says:

    Hi Joe,

    Mr. Yakas actually works for an Asian-American editor. The blog he writes for is intended to be playful and irreverent, and his reference to another journalist’s error was clearly intended as irony.

    Although it pushes short, sensational stories, The Gothamist tends to be read by very educated New Yorkers, and actually has a track record for being highly critical of real racism in the media and in our daily lives. It was even a major force in breaking the story of a Papa John’s worker who referred to a customer as “Lady Chinky Eyes”.

    http://gothamist.com/2012/01/07/papa_johns_rings_up_asian_customer.php

    With a little research, I’m certain you would have realized that Yakas’ comments were intended to be ironic, humorous, and critical of the race-based coverage of Lin.

    I see that Yakas’ editors eventually decided to take this remark down due to how widely it was misinterpreted by those with no knowledge of the outlet. But, even as a casual reader of the blog, I would have never taken their wordplay as anything other than it was: a playful indictment of the race-based coverage of Jeremy Lin.

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