Attacked Colleague Gratified By Jimmy Breslin’s Two-Week Suspension
NEW YORK (AP) _ Newsday turned a reprimand into a suspension for Jimmy Breslin after the Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist went on a radio show and spoke flippantly about his racial and sexual tirade against another reporter.
Don Forst, the editor of New York Newsday, announced the two-week suspension without pay late Tuesday.
Ji-Yeon Yuh, a Korean-American reporter who was the target of the columnist’s epithets, said Wednesday the punishment was appropriate.
″I think Newsday did the right thing,″ Yuh said from her desk at the newspaper’s office in Queens. ″I think when these kinds of things happen you really need to send a strong message that it is completely unacceptable.″
Asian-American staffers who had told management that the reprimand and Breslin’s apology were not enough called off a planned byline strike.
Calls to Breslin’s apartment Wednesday for comment were met with busy signals.
Forst’s announcement of the suspension said the newspaper had believed Breslin’s apology in response to its reprimand of his conduct had been genuine and sincere.
″But his radio conversation Tuesday morning with Howard Stern indicates a lack of sensitivity to what has been and continues to be a painful episode for all of us,″ he said.
Stern is a talk-show host who has tangled with the Federal Communications Commission over his sexual and ethnic jokes.
Breslin, 61, telephoned Stern while he was on the air and bantered about what may occur when he attends the approaching wedding of his nephew to a Korean woman. Breslin said he called the program at the urging of his children because Stern was devoting much of his show to the controversy.
″I think that even without the Howard Stern show, he should have been suspended,″ Yuh said.
The brouhaha was touched off when Yuh criticized as sexist a column Breslin wrote last week complaining that women officials - especially his wife, a member of the New York City Council - didn’t spend enough time at home.
Yuh delivered her comments to Breslin the following day via interoffice computer memo. Breslin roared his response to other Newsday staffers in the Manhattan office, describing Yuh, who was not present, with an obscenity and calling her ″yellow cur″ and ″slant-eyed.″
Later Friday afternoon, Breslin submitted an apology to Newsday’s staff in an internal computer message in which he said: ″I am no good and once again I can prove it. ... I am sorry. I said things I shouldn’t have said. The racial and sexual insults I spewed are never appropriate.″
He apologized again in his column on Monday.
After meeting with protesting staffers Tuesday evening and saying they did not intend to go beyond rebuking Breslin, the newspaper’s editors listened to a tape of the columnist on Stern’s program and decided to suspend him.
Breslin’s wife, Ronnie M. Eldridge, issued a statement Wednesday defending him and saying he is neither racist nor sexist.
″He is an artist. He has written fine books and memorable columns. His view of the world is special and consistent and wonderful,″ she said. ″But he is also outrageous. And he has a quick and miserable temper. He lost it the other day. And said terrible and regrettable things. Sadly, for him, he found no compassion or forgiveness.″
His comments on the radio show, she said, were ″a poor attempt at humor.″