ESPN Reporter's Vile Rant And Useless Apology

I try to be objective on this blog, but this story makes my blood boil.

Britt McHenry, an ESPN reporter based in Washington, DC, was caught on tape recently berating, belittling, and dehumanizing the cashier at a tow lot. Her vicious, bullying, and entitled rant would make her the perfect cast member for the next installment of the “Mean Girls” film series.

Watch this one for yourself.

Among other gems in her disgusting rant, McHenry said:

“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?”

“Maybe if I was missing some teeth they would hire me, huh?”

“Lose some weight, baby girl.”

Making this incident even worse, McHenry had been warned by the clerk that she was on video. If this was the version of McHenry that knew she was being taped, I can’t imagine what she would do if she didn’t. (Editor’s note: This video may have been edited, so it’s possible that warning came after she had already said those things, not before.)

After this video went viral, McHenry took to Twitter to offer a lame and woefully insufficient apology.

Britt McHenry Apology

Sorry, but reacting in such a vulgar way to an ordinary, everyday “intense and stressful moment” doesn’t even come close to being a credible explanation for her actions.

I suspect that, like me, many people will view this video and conclude that McHenry is a person with a vicious streak who is simply sorry because she got caught. And I also suspect that most people will conclude that she’s engaged in similar behavior in the past.

ESPN suspended Ms. McHenry for a week for her actions. One week. As this columnist with USA Today says, ESPN got its weak disciplinary action very, very wrong.

Britt McHenry Wikimedia Commons Keith Allison

What should Ms. McHenry do now?

Although I’d like to continue my rant about Ms. McHenry, I’ll call to my higher angels and offer her some actionable advice instead.

Her reputation will be damaged by this for a long time, and justifiably so, but in order to begin rehabilitating her image, Ms. McHenry has to be much more honest about her flaws. The type of glib de rigueur apology she offered only magnifies her reputation crisis.

I’d suggest something closer to the following as a way of acknowledging the incident in a more honest, forthright, and credible manner:

“There is no excuse for my dehumanizing behavior. I used my privileged position to belittle someone else. I understand that many people who watched this video were horrified by my behavior, and they should be.

I am very sorry to the woman I spoke to in this way. She didn’t deserve it. No one does. But I also understand that apologies alone are insufficient at convincing anybody that I’m not the type of person who thinks this type of behavior is okay. All I can say is that I’m more aware of my inner demons than ever before, will work to fix them, and hope that the way I comport myself in the future will eventually convince people that I’m worthy of their trust.”

What do you think? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

Photo credit: Keith Allison, Wikimedia Commons