A radio host in Boston has apologized for an on-air joke viewed as racist, though in his defense, WEEI's Chris Curtis claims it wasn't racist but sexist. Hosts of WEEI's The Greg Hill Show were discussing a city proposal to ban miniature liquor bottles known as nips on Tuesday when co-host Courtney Cox suggested they name their favorite brands of nips. After she and Hill mentioned a few, Chris Curtis, who is also a WEEI executive producer, cut in. "Oh, I'd probably go Mina Kimes," he said, per Boston.com.
As the outlet explains, "nip" is an ethnic slur targeting Japanese people, abbreviated from Nippon, the Japanese name for Japan, and Kimes is an ESPN analyst of Korean descent. He "couldn't even get his racism right," writes Mike Freeman at USA Today, arguing the attempt at humor was "guttural, like bottom of the barrel low." "There is no place for these type of hateful comments, which were uncalled for and extremely offensive," ESPN said in a statement. In the immediate aftermath, WEEI parent company Audacy would only say Curtis had confused Kimes with actor Mila Kunis, who is of Ukrainian-Jewish ancestry.
Curtis reiterated that as he began Thursday's show, revealing he'd been suspended for a week, per Boston 25. It wasn't a racist joke but rather a "pathetic failed attempt" at a "sexist" one, said Curtis, who seemed to imply a reference to nipples, not Japanese people. "But for reasons I don't understand, I said Mina Kimes. That was never the intention for me to say her name. It had nothing to do with the subject matter and it dragged her into a controversy through no fault of her own regarding a slur and her race."
He went on to apologize directly to Kimes "for a stupid, lame attempt at a joke" that was "dumb" and "silly." Freeman isn't soothed. He suggests Curtis knew exactly what he was saying and why. "There's an audience that likes hearing this type of ugliness and the hosts know it," he writes. He also sticks up for Kimes, who has "reached the upper echelon of [sports media] and is respected by everyone." Kimes has been quiet on the subject, though she did briefly change her Twitter profile picture to one of Kunis. (Read more ethnic slur stories.)