I have been casually following the travails of one Britt McHenry, the ESPN reporter caught on candid security camera berating a towing lot attendant.
McHenry left her car overnight in a restaurant parking lot, and when she went to retrieve it (post-tow) ended up in quite the heated call-and-response with the woman she had to get through to get her car back. Actually, what we see and hear on the widely available video of the incident is mostly the response. It appears that some of the call may have been edited out.
But whether McHenry was baited into her appallingly snotty comments by the tow-yard gal, Gina Michelle, or not, she said some pretty darned mean girl things – things that, frankly, seem more ingrained attitude than heat of the moment.
Here’s McHenry’s side of the repartee:
“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.” (Source: Huffington Post)
What’s so shocking is not that someone would get into a pissing match with the person at the tow-yard.
I can imagine plenty of folks saying something along the lines of “I will fucking sue this place.” Or “Yep, that’s all you care about is just asking people’s money.” Maybe even “Makes my skin crawl even being here.” And, of course, playing the ‘I’m important’ card with that “I’m in the news, sweetheart” non-zinger.
But then there are the jibes about education, intelligence, skillset, weight, teeth, and working “in a fucking trailer, honey.”
This is just so mean-spirited, insulting and class-ist.
I suspect that a lot more kids grow up dreaming about being “in the news” than dream of working in a dead-end job in a tow-yard. But somewhere along their way there may be plenty of bad luck, and maybe a few bad choices and missed opportunities, that end you up there.
You’d think that someone who’s had more than her share of middle-class advantages along the way, including getting a decent education – McHenry has a master’s in journalism from Northwestern - and likely some dental work along the way might be a bit more sympathetic to somewhere so obviously lower down on the socio-economic totem pole.
Anyway, Michelle – who herself may have a bit of the mean girl in her; or at least a bit of the pay-back’s-a-bitch, baby girl – made sure that the security video went public.
As a result, McHenry finds herself in the center of media storm, with petitioners and tweeters demanding that she be fired by ESPN, and others (“Camp Britt”) demanding that everyone just leave her alone.
ESPN – those paragons of morality and decency – are trying to make sure that no harm comes to its “brand image”. So they have (as of Sunday, April 19) suspended McHenry for a week.
More could follow.
After all, Bill Simmons, who’s certainly a more important play-ah at ESPN (and someone I enjoy reading, given that he’s a homer for all the Boston teams), was dinged for three weeks last fall for shooting off a couple of tweets criticizing NFL poo-bah Roger Goodell, who is not exactly the executive whose name comes to mind when someone says “competent.”
And the insults that McHenry hurled were pretty awful. Not to mention that there are probably plenty of ESPN couch potatoes who are husky college drop outs with bad teeth.
McHenry has, of course, issued the requisite mea culpa:
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.
Well, McHenry is young – in her twenties – so there’s plenty of time for her to learn from her mistakes.
For Britt McHenry’s sake, I hope that this translates into more than just keeping her mouth shut when the security cameras are rolling. Maybe, while she’s at it, she needs to start thinking about just why she feels entitled to treat someone else the way she did Gina Michelle.
Surely, someone with a degree from Northwestern is smart enough to realize that were it not for her pretty-ish looks, she might not be “in the news.” And once those pretty-ish looks have faded a bit….
No, McHenry is never going to end up taking payments in the tow-yard trailer, but she won’t be interviewing athletes for ESPN forever, either. The males with the mike might be well along in years, but the females? No way.
Good luck, Britt.
Maybe ESPN has no right firing someone for an “infraction” that has nothing to do with their job, and which “the boss” only found out about because it was caught on camera. But I wouldn’t be surprised either way. I’m sure that as I write this they’re sitting around deciding whether to give in to the rabid masses calling for her head or the Camp Britt campers who’ll forgive anything a pretty-ish blonde does, especially if there’s an even tow company involve. (And, let’s face it, how many defenders is a towing company going to have?)
Whether she goes or stays, I’ve got some advice for Britt McHenry.
“Lose some attitude, baby girl.”