Nothing is uglier than someone who feels she’s special and others aren’t.
Following a one week suspension for verbally abusing a towing company employee, ESPN Sports reporter Brittany “Britt” McHenry has returned to work.
In a video that’s been widely circulated, the 28-year-old can be heard heartlessly disparaging a female clerk, clearly pointing out the “class” distinction between the two, among other things:
• “I’m in the news, sweetheart.”
• “I will fucking sue this place.”
• “That’s why I have a degree and you don’t.”
• “I wouldn’t work in a scumbag place like this.”
• “Makes my skin crawl even being here.”
• “Yep, that’s all you care about is just taking people’s money. With no education, no skill set, just wanted to clarify that.”
• “Do you feel good about your job?
• “So I can be a college dropout and do the same thing?”
• “Why? Because I have a brain? And you don’t?”
• “Maybe if I was missing some teeth they would hire me, huh?”
• “‘Cause they [the employee’s teeth] look so stunning … ‘Cause I’m on television and you’re in a fucking trailer, honey.”
• “Lose some weight, baby girl.”
Everyone has a momentary lapse of manners, but McHenry’s sober, unremitting tirade goes beyond the pale of civility.
Someone needs to sit McHenry down, and have a facts-of-life talk with her; the facts being: a) as a journalist, when out in the public, she not only represents herself, but the organization she is employed by, as well as journalists in general; and b) that she is accorded the privilege of having a job that puts her front and center in the public, and that one of the conditions of having such a high-profile, well-paid job is to act respectful and appropriate at all times – even when those times may not be to her liking.
As soon as ESPN management saw the video, Vice-President of Communications Josh Krulewitz posted a message on Twitter (Apr. 16): “Britt McHenry has been suspended for 1 week effectively immediately.”
One week? That’s a vacation, not a penalty.
The same day, McHenry took to Twitter to post: “In an intense and stressful moment, I allowed my emotions to get the best of me and said some insulting and regrettable things. As frustrated as I was, I should always choose to be respectful and take the high road. I am so sorry for my actions and will learn from this mistake.”
While I acknowledge that social media appears to be the new default-setting-du-jour for all manner of remarks, it’s hardly the appropriate medium for a genuine apology.
Had I the ear of ESPN’s Krulewitz, I would have strongly suggested the following:
• Ms. McHenry will be suspended for one month, without pay.
• Ms. McHenry will make an in-person apology to the towing attendant she abused and anyone else who was present at the time of the incident.
• Ms. McHenry will write a sincere, personal apology to be posted on the home page of ESPN to all fans and fellow employees of ESPN.
• Ms. McHenry will submit a handwritten, personal apology to John Skipper, current president of ESPN.
• Ms. McHenry will submit a handwritten, personal apology to Bob Iger, current president of The Walt Disney Company which owns 80 percent of ESPN.
• Ms. McHenry will submit a handwritten, personal apology to Frank A. Bennack, Jr., the current CEO of The Hearst Corporation which owns the other 20 percent of ESPN.
• Ms. McHenry will attend anger management sessions twice a week for the entire month she is under suspension.
• Ms. McHenry will address more than 50 students at two public schools a week during her suspension about the importance of respect, and that “intense, stressful moments” are not an excuse to verbally abuse anyone.
• Upon returning to the privileged, well-paid, and very public job she is fortunate to have, Ms. McHenry will make an on-air apology to all viewers.
If McHenry truly regrets her actions she would voluntarily commit to most of the items on this list. You’re in the news, sweetheart.