#FireBrittMcHenry: The ESPN Media & Social Media Crisis
By Gerard Braud—
How would you or your company handle the situation if one of your employees did what ESPN reporter Britt McHenry did?
A media and social media crisis has been created for ESPN and McHenry when a video was posted that showed McHenry berating an employee of an auto towing company.
At this moment, ESPN has suspended McHenry for one week. How would you handle this situation?
C.S. Lewis is quoted as saying, “Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.” We could paraphrase that to say, “Character is doing the right thing, regardless of whether you are in public or private.”
McHenry was at a business, thinking she was having a private conversation with the clerk. But in a world where cameras record everything, McHenry’s encounter became public.
On the line right now is the character of ESPN and McHenry. The hashtag #FireBrittMcHenry began trending shortly after the video was posted.
Here are some of the things McHenry said on the video that was posted:
“I’m in the news sweetheart and I will fu*&ing sue this place.”
“That’s why I have a degree and you don’t.”
“With no education, no skill set, just wanted to clarify that.”
“Do you feel good about your job? So I could be a college drop out and do the same thing.”
“Maybe if I was missing some teeth they would hire me huh?”
“Oh, like yours cause they look so stunning. Cause I’m on television and you’re in a fu*King trailer honey. Lose some weight baby girl.”
I spent 15 years on television and worked very hard never to be or be perceived as a celebrity. My wife used to go crazy because people would ask, “Where do I know you from?” I’d always shake their hand and say, “I don’t know. I’m Gerard Braud. And your name is…?” Never did I identify myself with my television station.
Conversely, I also knew some really mean reporters and anchors with huge egos who thought they were better than everyone else. Many were notorious for throwing temper tantrums.
In McHenry’s case, being angry that your car got towed is understandable. But when your anger turns to personal attacks about the appearance of other people, indicating that you clearly believe you are better looking and a better person than everyone else, you’ve crossed the line and you deserve to be fired.
In television, ratings often drive decision making more than a network simply doing what is morally and ethically the right thing. That’s sad. This should be a no brainer for ESPN to fire McHenry. Sure, she gets ratings because of her looks. But there are many other talented young women with nicer personalities and smaller egos who are ready to take her place.
And here’s the kicker to the on camera rant – when McHenry says on video, “Why, cause I have a brain and you don’t.” If McHenry had a brain she would be smart enough never to say what she said or treat a person the way she did.
Editor’s note: Left Jab Radio interviewed media and crisis expert Gerard Braud about Britt McHenry. Listen to the interview here.