Hornets fire radio broadcaster John Focke after he tweeted racial slur

Jason Owens
·3 mins read

The Charlotte Hornets announced on Thursday that they have fired radio announcer John Focke for a violation of the team’s social media policy.

Focke tweeted in August about a playoff game between the Denver Nuggets and Utah Jazz. Instead of the word “Nuggets” in the phrase below, Focke wrote the racial slur in a since-deleted tweet.

“Shot making in this Jazz-[Nuggets] game is awesome! Murray and Mitchell going back and forth what a game!”

The Hornets announced Thursday’s news in a statement.

“The Charlotte Hornets announced today that John Focke will not return as the team’s radio broadcaster due to a violation of the organization’s social media policy,” the statement reads. “Since this is a personnel matter, the organization will not comment any further.

“The Hornets thank John for all of his efforts during the 2019-20 season.”

Focke claimed he ‘mistyped’ the word

The Hornets initially suspended Focke on Aug. 18 while the team investigated the incident. Focke apologized for the tweet that was sent a day earlier and claimed to have “mistyped” the slur.

“Earlier today I made a horrific error while attempting to tweet about the Denver-Utah game,” Focke wrote. “I don’t know how I mistyped, I had (and have) no intention of ever using that word. I take full responsibility for my actions. I have been sick to my stomach about it ever since. I’m truly sorry that this happened and I apologize to those I offended.

The apology arrived nearly six hours after Focke sent out the tweet. Many pointed out that autocorrect programs on phones don’t automatically change “Nuggets” to the slur, suggesting that Focke would have needed to use the word intentionally in the past for his phone to learn it.

Focke denied that it was an autocorrect error

Focke told the Charlotte Observer’s Scott Fowler that he had never typed the slur on his phone before and denied that it was an autocorrect error.

“I was trying to get it done as fast as I could so that it was relevant by the time I posted it,” Focke told Fowler. “I tried to type it and obviously I mistyped the word ‘Nuggets.’ And I did not reread it — which, as you know, that’s rule No. 1 of working in the media.

“And unfortunately, I didn’t, because I was trying to get it up as fast as possible. And I hit ‘send.’”

Focke had just finished his first season working on the Hornets radio broadcast. The Hornets season was over when Focke sent the tweet as Charlotte did not qualify to play in the bubble.

The Hornets fired the announcer who tweeted the n-word instead of "Nuggets." (Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
The Hornets fired the announcer who tweeted the n-word instead of "Nuggets." (Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

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