ESPN responded Wednesday to race-based Twitter comments by the comic Artie Lange about First Take moderator Cari Champion.
"His comments were reprehensible and no one should be subjected to such hateful language," the network said in a statement on Wednesday. "They objectify and demean one of our valued employees under the thin guise of “comedy” and are offensive to all of us. We will not dignify them with any other comment."
Champion declined comment to SI.com.
In his series of tweets on Tuesday, Lange described several sexual scenarios he would enjoy with the host and dropped references to slavery within those tweets. His comments set off anger on Twitter -- the hashtag #iSupportCari was trending on Wednesday -- and a number of Champion's ESPN colleagues called out the comments publicly including SportsCenter anchor Kevin Negandhi who tweeted: "She's the epitome of class, one of the sharpest people I know. Cari Champion is above the ignorance. Nothing funny about those tweets."
On Wednesday afternoon, Lange reacted to the increasing criticism with a series of tweets.
This observation came while I was watching one of my favorite TV shows ESPNs First Take. I also noticed she was black. I then thought it would be funny to tweet JOKES about that observation. A decision which might be the end of modern comedy. I tweeted jokes that in the past I would've said in privately in my home among friends. I know black women who could join me and handle it. I won't debate if the tweets were funny. That could take minutes of precious time left in my career. The issue is do they warrant an apology. Tricky question. I would rather load trucks for a living then ever apologize to one of these awful PC groups ruining the country. So that's a NO. But if it upset the lady in question that's another story. Let me say to Cari Champion if this hurt u in any way I'm sorry. I'm a comedian. Sometimes I'm funny! For the record my moms disgusted w the tweets. But if I based my humor on my mom I'd be broke. They're now telling me I can't appear on @Midnight tonight cause of the pressure they're getting from these groups. But who cares. I love the show & it's my living but who cares. These groups have won again. All I care about is @CariChampion Truly.