By Chuck Ross
Many of us, whether or not we have previously heard of ESPN reporter Britt McHenry, seem to have an opinion about ESPN suspending her for seven days after her tirade at a towing company was caught on videotape and then released earlier this week on the Internet.
Here’s an example of one of the two extremely different reactions to ESPN’s suspension of McHenry, both published today, Friday, April 17, 2015:
“It sure is fun to see pretty, successful blondes taken down a notch. And to do so while expressing solidarity with the beleaguered working class? Perfect.
“Except ESPN is supposed to be a journalistic outfit. Maybe it should get both sides of the story before jumping to conclusions. Because there’s another side to this story — and it’s a lot more interesting than ‘pretty woman yells at maybe-not-so-pretty woman.’”
Smith says the company that towed McHenry’s car, Advanced Towing, has a rating from the Better Business Bureau of “F.” Smith writes that “of 40 complaints lodged against the company in the last three years, Advanced Towing has simply ignored 37.”
Smith goes on to quote several people writing on Yelp about terrible deeds allegedly done by Advanced Towing, including towing cars for no reason.
Concludes Smith, “McHenry’s private conversation wasn’t actually any of ESPN’s business and should not even have been captured or distributed without her consent — but ESPN was terrified of the online mob and panicked.”
He continues, “ESPN should do the right thing and reinstate McHenry until it learns the whole story — or simply concede that sometimes people lose their tempers. The way McHenry talks on her worst, most frustrating day is probably how Keith Olbermann talked to his mom.”
He adds that local journalists in Arlington, Virginia, where the incident took place, should investigate what really happened to upset McHenry.
On the other end of the spectrum is a blog published by USA Today sports blogger Chris Chase, titled “ESPN got it wrong with Britt McHenry.”
Writes Chase, “Britt McHenry’s one-week suspension is an embarrassing slap on the wrist from a network that has been doling out so many harsh suspensions recently that it’s like Roger Goodell on a power trip….While Bill Simmons gets a three-week suspension for calling out his bosses and Tony Kornheiser is set aside for two weeks for commenting on Hannah Storm’s wardrobe, McHenry was shelved for just seven days for her mean, caustic diatribe. It’s a misguided system of justice: ESPN considers ESPN-on-ESPN smack-talk to be worse than ESPN sneering at the rest of the world. It’s a joke.”
Of McHenry’s apology, Chase writes, “…it’s all phony. That wasn’t the attitude of someone having a bad day. That wasn’t someone frustrated by an employee at a tow-truck operator and looking to blow off a little steam. We’ve all been there and (hopefully) didn’t denigrate the man or woman responsible for not having a degree, nor rip on a cashier for simply doing her job. A bad day is cursing at someone or driving away from that tow-truck company and flipping the bird. Those are the sort of slip-ups that make us human. What McHenry did is an attitude based on power and entitlement.”