Journalists on Notice: 'Chink' in Wrong Story 'Like Using the 'N' Word Accidentally'

CNBC reporter criticized for using a common phrase.

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Rupert Murdoch and his wife Wendi Deng Murdoch leave after attending the Dame Elisabeth Murdoch public memorial at St Paul's Cathedral on December 18, 2012 in Melbourne, Australia. Dame Murdoch passed away on December 5th, aged 103.
Rupert Murdoch and his wife Wendi Deng Murdoch leave after attending the Dame Elisabeth Murdoch public memorial at St Paul's Cathedral on December 18, 2012 in Melbourne, Australia. Dame Murdoch passed away on December 5th, aged 103.

CNBC reporter Robert Frank used a common phrase Tuesday when discussing Wendi Deng's divorce case against News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch, leading to a minor controversy.

"What do you think the chink in the armor here might be?" Frank asked another reporter, referring to the couple's prenuptial contract.

The liberal blog Media Matters and a representative of the Asian American Journalists Association took issue with the word "chink" being used, noting that the journalists were discussing a story involving a Chinese-American.

"It's like using the 'n' word accidentally," Bobby Caina Calvan, media watch chair of the AAJA, told U.S. News.

Calvan said he isn't pushing for the word to be banished from news reports per se, but rather encouraging that it never be used in stories involving someone with Asian ancestry.

"The 'ch' word is universally considered our version of the 'n' word," he said. "For some reason the rest of the country doesn't seem to understand that."

Members of the AAJA, Calvan said, have a diversity of opinion on this and other issues.

In a statement to several news outlets, including the Hollywood Reporter, a representative for CNBC said offense taken by the term was "totally unintentional."

This isn't the first time the AAJA has waded into debates about news coverage. In 2012 the association issued an advisory on "danger zones" to avoid when covering NBA star Jeremy Lin. The AAJA cautioned against using the word "grasshopper" and said jokes about Lin's vision, driving ability and - specifically - the phrase "me love you Lin time" were unacceptable.

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