The Scarlet "R": Accusations Of Racism (And Never Mind Whether There's Anything To Them)
This one isn't even plausible -- the notion that an ESPN announcer who isn't drunk off his ass or full-on nuts would use an ugly term to refer to a black woman.
At Acculturated, Kyle Smith writes about how a leap to a conclusion that an announcer made a racist remark seems to have rather rapidly ruined the announcer's career:
Doug Adler [is] a (former) ESPN sports announcer whose career was demolished because of a frenzied overreaction to his (correct) use of a single word: Guerilla. Adler was calling an Australian Open tennis match between Venus Williams (who is black) and Stefanie Voegele when he said,"You see Venus move in and put the guerilla effect on. Charging." Adler noted that "guerilla tennis" is a commonly used phrase and has been ever since a famous 1995 Nike TV spot of that title in which Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi hastily strung a tennis net across a busy city street and started playing right there.
When Adler made his "guerilla" remark, a few Twitter users accused him of using the word "gorilla," their complaints amplified considerably by New York Times tennis writer Ben Rothenberg. "This is some appalling stuff. Horrifying that the Williams sisters remain subjected to it still in 2017." Wait, the Williams sisters, plural? Who said anything about Serena Williams? Rothenberg took one misunderstood word, turned it into an imaginary insult, then doubled the fantasy slur. When what Roth termed "the ecstasy of sanctimony" takes over, logic bows its head and retreats. Rothenberg's Tweet was re-Tweeted 142 times, reaching many thousands and apparently Adler's bosses.
Part of the problem is that Twitter isn't just an info-dispensing medium; it's a way for people to signal that they are aligned with a certain tribe and way of thinking. It's also a way for people to feel they are doing something while not doing anything much at all. (It's basically like going "High five!" or "Yick!" through a megaphone and then feeling like they've done their protest marching for the day and they can go get a beer.)
Smith asks the right question:
Whatever happened to the benefit of the doubt? How likely is it that a professional sports announcer, in 2017, would publicly refer to a black athlete as a "gorilla"? Why would anyone draw an inference that a gorilla was playing tennis? Even assuming Adler was the worst racist in the world, would he have been so stupid as to think he could get away with referring to a black person as an ape without consequence? Yet leaping to conclusions is rewarded by the pace of online communications: Be among the first to get angry, earn yourself lots of attention instantly, and if you happen to be completely wrong about what was said, no big deal, because everyone's attention has moved on to the next thing.
Except that Adler was demolished. Adler said ESPN understood that he had used the word "guerilla," not "gorilla," finished his work for the day without incident and was eating lunch in the lounge the next day "when the boss showed up out of the blue," Adler told FoxNews.com. "He was bowing to pressure because it was all over Twitter." Ordered to apologize on ESPN, Adler did so, but was fired anyway. In so doing, ESPN effectively branded Adler a racist. Which pretty much means the end of one's career.
Here's that "guerilla tennis" spot.
Oh, and a NYT tennis writer hasn't heard of this term? Maybe the wrong guy lost his job?