Published: April 24, 2015

By Jim Lichtman
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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.

Too tough?

If McHenry truly regrets her actions she would voluntarily commit to most of the items on this list. You’re in the news, sweetheart.


  1. In all honesty, having watched the video/camera account and having read the actual text of her words, I would be far less forgiving than you, Jim, just based upon my life experience and the knowledge that her innate personality is forever structured in self-worship, that others are inferior and she is perfect and privileged. I would have fired her had she been our staff employee representing my cardiovascular surgical practice which stands for excellence across the board. And yes, I did that on several occasions to our everlasting accountability to being “the best”.

    1. I absolutely agree with Dr. Baldwin. In any organization where you are the ‘face of the company’ so to speak you have a responsibility to represent that organization in all your words and actions. It really doesn’t matter how large the organization is, this cannot be tolerated at all. No apology coming from these self centered individuals is sincere. The only answer is to fire her. Let her try to explain to her next prospective employer her situation and why she’s unemployed.

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