In case you were wondering who Britt McHenry is…

Media, Television

In a bizarre and embarrassing rant that went viral, ESPN personality Britt McHenry verbally abused a woman who was working at the office of a towing company in Arlington, Virginia. When I ask who McHenry is, I’m not asking in a tone wondering, “Who does she think she is talking to people like this?” It’s a legitimate question as to who she is, because I don’t know. I’m going to presume you’re like me in that you had no idea who Britt McHenry was before this and wouldn’t have known had this not happened.

You can watch it below.

According to McHenry, her vehicle was towed from an Arlington, Virginia parking lot for no reason. If that’s true and was done just because the municipality and towing company are trying to make money from unsuspecting and innocent people, then she had the right to be livid. She might even have had the right to walk into the office of the towing company and vent. Had she gone into a cursing rant as to why they took her bleeping car when there was no reason for them to do so, then no one would have said a word. In fact, many might have agreed with her. Instead, she decided to go beyond justified anger and comment negatively on the appearance of the woman sitting behind the desk of the towing company office while arrogantly insinuating that she was a superior human being because she’s “in the news” and has a college degree. In truth, she’s in the news now because her story is newsworthy. Prior to that, she was an employee at a sports network that does break news and has reporters that do excellent work, but she is neither a newsbreaker nor a reporter. She’s a personality.

I call her a “personality” because I don’t believe the designation of “reporter” should just be handed over by sheer nature of a job title. She’s a sideline person; she does interviews; she’s a good looking woman whom the network hopes will attract some viewers to watch her. There’s nothing wrong with that until the person begins to believe that appearance and aesthetics equates to talent and intelligence.

I can’t say whether or not she’s talented; if she knows anything about sports; if she’s likable; if she’s an asset to the network because before this, I had no idea who she was. The idea that she’s a network personality seems to have given her an inflated sense of self-importance to believe it’s appropriate to treat others as if they’re beneath her.

McHenry is a face. And a replaceable one at that. Walk onto the campus of UCLA, USC, Florida, Florida State, Arizona State – any of the well-known schools where the coeds are generally considered the prettiest in the country – and you can find a replacement for McHenry who could be trained within a few months to seamlessly do the exact same job with no one even remembering her name.

The apology she posted on Twitter was indicative of what it was that made her feel so entitled to say the things she said to that woman to start with. It wasn’t, “I said some terrible, obnoxious, arrogant things to someone I don’t even know. I was angry, but that’s no excuse and I shouldn’t equate another person’s appearance with their self-worth in the same way that I don’t want to be seen as someone who got her job based on little more than the way I look.” That would have been an honest apology. Instead, it wasn’t even an apologetic gesture. It was more of the me-me-me that blew her ego out of control. Translating what she tweeted, it actually said, “I got screwed when my car was towed. I was mad and I threw a tantrum. And, hey, whatever. Sorry I got busted. I have to apologize so I won’t get fired. Y’know. I’ll try to be a better person. Etc.”

There was no mention of the woman she was berating because the woman didn’t exist in McHenry’s world before and she only exists now because McHenry got into trouble for the abusive tirade.

If brainless mannequins are hired and they’ve been trained to equate a person’s worth with appearance, then this is unavoidable when the world doesn’t fall at the brainless mannequin’s feet as they’re supposed to. It’s a testimony to the type of person she is and how insecure she is. “I’m good looking, therefore I’m better than you.”

McHenry was suspended by the network for a week from doing…whatever it is she does. I’m still not sure. Some were saying she should be fired. I don’t believe this was a fireable offense. However, the question about McHenry’s job status isn’t whether or not she should be fired, but what it was about her that got her hired in the first place. Had she been someone who was average-looking, was slightly overweight or plain fat, would ESPN have hired her? They can say they would have. They can claim that their hiring practices are, in part, predicated on the photogenic nature and charm of their employees but the employees must be qualified. But the reality and obviousness of their and every other network’s hiring decisions diametrically opposes any protestation to the contrary stating that they would have hired her regardless of appearance.

She’s proud of her appearance and clearly works hard to maintain it. She’d better. Because once it’s gone, she’s not going to have a job on television since her looks are the only talent she has.