ESPN reporter Britt McHenry has been suspended by the network for a nasty and bizarre tirade against an attendant for a towing company.
McHenry, who was at the center of a controversy last season when Washington coach Jay Gruden called her reporting “amateurish,” verbally attacked a woman who works for a company that towed McHenry’s car.
“I’m in the news, sweetheart. I will f--king sue this place,” McHenry said, in comments captured by a security video that was posted to LiveLeak.com.
The towing company employee, who showed admirable restraint during the encounter, replied by warning McHenry that she was being recorded. That didn’t deter McHenry from spewing a series of insults in the other woman’s direction, including:
“I have a degree and you don’t.”
“I wouldn’t work in a scumbag place like this. It makes my skin crawl even being here.”
“With no education, no skill set -- I just want to clarify that. Do you feel good about your job? So I could be a college dropout and do the same thing?”
“I have a brain and you don’t.”
“Maybe if I was missing some teeth they would hire me here. I’m on television and you’re in a f--king trailer, honey. Lose some weight, baby girl.”
Once the tape was made public, McHenry issued a statement that had the feel of something written for her by a PR person.
“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,” McHenry said in the statement.
Shortly after that apology was issued, ESPN released a statement saying that McHenry has been suspended for one week.
Frankly, McHenry got off easy. You could argue that this was a personal matter and that her employer shouldn’t suspend her for it, but that ignores the fact that McHenry made a specific point of noting that she works in television as she threatened to sue the towing company. She was using her status as an ESPN employee to assist her in her nasty attack on this towing company employee. At a company that suspended Bill Simmons three weeks for stating a harsh opinion about NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, a suspension of just one week feels lenient.
McHenry says she will learn from this mistake, and maybe she will. One thing all of us should learn is that we now live in a world where we should always assume we’re on camera. That nasty thing you say in private today may be on YouTube tomorrow.
Another thing all of us should learn is to treat people with basic human decency. It’s unfortunate that McHenry had to be publicly shamed into learning that lesson.