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Kyle Smith (Twitter: @rkylesmith) is critic-at-large for National Review, theater critic for The New Criterion and the author of the novels Love Monkey and A Christmas Caroline. Type a title in the box above to locate a review.

Buy Love Monkey for $4! "Hilarious"--Maslin, NY Times. "Exceedingly readable and wickedly funny romantic comedy"--S.F. Chronicle. "Loud and brash, a helluva lot of fun"--Entertainment Weekly. "Engaging romp, laugh-out-loud funny"-CNN. "Shrewd, self-deprecating, oh-so-witty. Smith's ruthless humor knows no bounds"--NPR

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    Defending Britt McHenry

    By kyle | April 17, 2015

    Considering what she was up against, maybe her tirade was justified. Maybe not. But what does her losing her temper on her own time have to do with her ESPN job? New column.

    Topics: TV | 25 Comments »

    25 Responses to “Defending Britt McHenry”

    1. kishke Says:
      April 17th, 2015 at 1:57 pm

      Good, Kyle! A sensible column by a sensible guy.

      I like this line:

      The way McHenry talks on her worst, most frustrating day is probably how Keith Olbermann talked to his mom.

    2. Patrick Says:
      April 17th, 2015 at 11:56 pm

      I can understand her getting mad, but the clip I heard had a lot of class snobbery in it from her. I think she’s a little full of herself.

      “Better lose some weight baby girl.”

      And – “I’m in the news, sweetheart, I will [expletive] sue this place,” McHenry says at one point in the video. ‚ÄúThat’s why I have a degree and you don’t. I wouldn’t work in a scumbag place like this […] it makes my skin crawl even being here.”

    3. Obama bin Biden Says:
      April 18th, 2015 at 9:39 am

      I concur.

    4. SK Says:
      April 18th, 2015 at 3:56 pm

      Are we supposed to infer that McHenry’s car was towed for no reason based on Advanced Towing’s BBB rating and some Yelp reviews?

      I suppose that ESPN views her as an ambassador, and they believe that her belittling, demeaning remarks put them in a bad light.

    5. Jim Says:
      April 19th, 2015 at 7:23 am

      You either want to cheat on your wife with this classless lady, or have no idea what classless is, because the theme is not about the tow company, but this “entitled, college educated, money making” jerk who took her misguided ire out on an unsuspecting clerk. She left her car overnight (do we wonder why)which was against the parking rules and was towed. Pay the fine, because you were wrong, leave, and learn your lesson, and you, Mr. Smith, work on getting that date.

    6. JimmyC Says:
      April 19th, 2015 at 10:59 am

      It’s very simple, Kyle: McHenry is a public figure. She makes her living in the public eye, and when you treat a working-class person in that way, regardless of who they work for, that reflects badly on your reputation. In show business, reputation is everything, and when you damage that reputation, it reflects badly on the company that hired you to represent them on camera. Had she been an accountant or something, of course she wouldn’t have lost her job over this, but being an on-camera reporter is a whole different ball of wax.

      She may very well have been right to be upset with the Advanced employee – it sounds like they’re an incredibly shifty company, to say the least – but that’s irrelevant. She could have reacted in a hundred different ways, but she chose to react in the most elitist, snobbish way possible. Like Mel Gibson’s reaction to being arrested for drunk driving, it revealed something about her character that stained her image in people’s eyes.

    7. CKO Says:
      April 19th, 2015 at 2:58 pm

      Sorry, kishke, but in this situation Kyle is not only off base, he’s not even playing in the right ballpark. McHenry should have been fired.

    8. kishke Says:
      April 20th, 2015 at 11:58 am

      CKO, the idea that she should have been fired for saying something mean to someone who likely provoked her is just silly. I’m not going to bother arguing about it.

      But what I liked about Kyle’s column was that he understood that there’s something really wrong with this picture of a mob of people savaging someone they don’t even know, not for something she did but for something she said, not to them but to someone else. I also like that Kyle recognized that we don’t have the whole story, that she may have been badly provoked, and that the mob screaming for her blood doesn’t care to know the truth. And I liked that he understands that saying something mean, while not exactly admirable, is not reason to destroy a person’s career. All this seemed to me to be eminently sensible, and still does.

    9. CKO Says:
      April 20th, 2015 at 12:47 pm

      Give me a break. Anyone with an IQ above single digits can tell McHenry started it. Case closed.

      And this isn’t the first time McHenry’s behaved like a weapons-grade brat in public; check out the link at the end of this post and you’ll see what I mean.

    10. kishke Says:
      April 20th, 2015 at 1:17 pm

      Yeah, yeah, not the first time. This is the usual shaming game. First the attack, then the combing through anything the person has ever said online to find “evidence” of their terribleness. And then suckers like you tweet it and post it. I don’t care if it’s the tenth time. I don’t care if she’s always rude to people. I don’t think her life should be destroyed for being rude to someone. I wouldn’t want that to happen if the insulted someone happened to be me; I certainly wouldn’t be attacking her for rudeness to someone I don’t even know. I don’t understand people who are eager to see a person they don’t know in the slightest severely punished for the great sin of being mean. It’s a sick impulse.

    11. CKO Says:
      April 20th, 2015 at 2:04 pm

      You want to talk about sick impulses, kishke? How about your sick impulse to defend a borderline sociopath like McHenry?

    12. kishke Says:
      April 20th, 2015 at 2:38 pm

      That’s how nutty you guys are. A woman has a temper tantrum, she’s a “borderline sociopath.” Do you really believe this nonsense?

    13. CKO Says:
      April 20th, 2015 at 2:58 pm

      That wasn’t a “temper tantrum”, it was full-fledged verbal assault and battery. The tow truck company would have been well within their rights to have her arrested if they’d been so inclined. Stop making excuses for McHenry.

    14. Kyle Says:
      April 20th, 2015 at 3:38 pm

      Nice try. Words and violence are two completely different things. Using metaphors to make it sound like they’re the same won’t work, at least not on me.

    15. CKO Says:
      April 20th, 2015 at 4:01 pm

      It doesn’t take much for violent thoughts or comments to become violent deeds. Would you be so quick to take McHenry’s side if she’d escalated to actually slugging the tow truck worker? Because judging by her past history and the confrontational behavior she displays in the video in question, things could all too easily gotten physical.

      Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words can start a brawl.

    16. kishke Says:
      April 20th, 2015 at 5:38 pm

      I have no idea whether her thoughts were violent, and neither do you, but her words certainly were not. She threatened no violence. She called the woman some names, and boasted about herself. You are inventing new offenses to justify your jihad.

    17. kishke Says:
      April 20th, 2015 at 5:40 pm

      Oh, and she would not have been arrested and charged for calling the woman fat. If the police had been called, they would have told her to calm down and that would have been that. Precious flowers like yourself might want to change that, but thankfully, in this country, insults have not yet been criminalized.

    18. Kyle Says:
      April 20th, 2015 at 6:05 pm

      CKO, Would I change my mind if she switched from “making remarks” to “physically assaulting”? Yes, because these are two completely different things, genius!

    19. CKO Says:
      April 20th, 2015 at 6:24 pm

      Kishke: Dude, I saw the original video on Deadspin; she was glaring at the tow truck driver like Ivan Drago getting ready to fight Rocky Balboa. Not exactly the demeanor of somebody looking for a peaceful resolution to the problem at hand.

      P.S. That “precious flower” crack was out of line and totally unnecessary.

    20. kishke Says:
      April 20th, 2015 at 6:28 pm

      Glaring, thinking, rudeness — these things are not violence. If they lead to violence, it’s a different story, obviously. But they didn’t. And so she doesn’t deserve to be treated as if they did, which is what you’re doing.

      Sorry about the precious flower line.

    21. kishke Says:
      April 20th, 2015 at 7:53 pm

      Here’s a telling comment from a guy on McHenry’s fb page:

      Serkan Altan: I don’t watch ESPN and I don’t know know this reporter. But….If you met that employee (ex-mistress of the owner) at Advance Towing, you would have a different idea about this. I met her once when my car was illegally towed (yes, it was determined, got my money back). I asked her one simple question: why they would tow a car with a valid parking pass from my reserved space. She cursed me out as a response while chewing gum. She threw racist insults. She had a very nasty attitude. She was vulgar, sarcastic. She would aggravate anyone and loose their perspective. I wonder why the recording didn’t show all. I asked the management to review my incident on recording, it was not “available” Himmmm…I am pretty sure once everyone sees and hear the other side of the coin, the story would be different.

    22. kishke Says:
      April 20th, 2015 at 10:10 pm

      For the truth about “Saint Gina,” check out this guy’s account of his dealings with her:

      This is the same account as in my previous comment, which is still in moderation limbo.

    23. Al Says:
      April 21st, 2015 at 9:34 am

      All you guys defending poor little Britt should stop thinking with your units. You remind me of the guy who stares just a little too long at attractive women.

    24. kishke Says:
      April 21st, 2015 at 1:46 pm

      Sure, Al. A weak attempt, but since thinking is clearly not your strong point, I guess you need to go with whatever dumb insult you come up with.

    25. kishke Says:
      April 21st, 2015 at 2:25 pm

      Cross-posting an interesting comment on the NY Post article from a guy called Stanton:

      Good start, Kyle, but this story gets more interesting – and pathetic – as you dig deeper. It’s a prime example of unprincipled Internet shaming run amok, a phenomenon that is becoming disturbingly common.

      I intend to write more about this myself, but very briefly…Britt McHenry’s awfulness was corroborated by a month-old blog post titled “I was attacked by an ESPN reporter for wanting equal treatment of women”, written by an Arkansas attorney named Sarah Sparkman. In it, she breathlessly describes a bullying encounter she had with McHenry via Twitter.

      It’s a long story with many details, but NONE of them paint Ms. Sparkman in a very flattering light. Her zeal to be torchbearer for the Cyber mob that’s vilifying McHenry is appalling in its own right, but all the more so because she plays fast and loose with the truth. Because she did, and because people suck and are so anxious to believe tales about beautiful, blonde moral lepers, a quick search finds that media all around the world quickly seized upon her little blog post as the only other corroborating nail needed to seal McHenry in her coffin of terribleness. Headlines describe it as a testament to her attacking, bullying, beratng, lashing-out-ways. For her part, Ms. Sparkman has embraced her brush with fame, retweeting links to her blog post the moment McHenry’s Great Towing Tirade came to light, and actually sitting for several broadcast interviews.

      Suffice it to say, the narrative put together by Ms Sparkman on her blog is one-sided bunk. And not even that one side qualifies as anything remotely approaching her claim of being attacked, bullied, etc. She presents several screen grabs of McHenry Tweets, absurdly reading vicious intent into each and every one, while including none of her own tweets, only an editorialized retelling of the wholesome, sisterly nature of her responses. How reasonable and patient and, well, educational she was trying to be.

      The problem is, Ms. Sparkman gets off on bad footing when she blatantly misrepresents what precipitated her encounter with McHenry, which was the explicit mention of McHenry’s name in a negative way in a discussion initiated by Sparkman. Her initial (insipid) comment was “I wish there were more women in sports broadcasting that aren’t completely sexualized”. She received a few responses from her followers, one of which was “”gets old. They did the same thing with Britt McHenry. But it gets the attention of the desired audience…”.

      That was when Ms. McHenry jumped into the fray. For quite a legitimate reason, which doesn’t exactly align with Sparkman’s retelling of events, what with the irrational, berating bully on the warpath for no apparent reason.

      I contacted Sparkman via Twitter yesterday to politely inquire as to the possibility of her making public her entire exchange with McHenry, not just a few selected Tweets (Again, though, none of which come remotely close to qualifying as “attacks” or “bullying”). She responded by blocking me almost instantaneously, then moving her entire Twitter account private, so it can only be seen by her followers. I then raised some of these issues and posed these same questions on her blog site, and her comments section has now been removed. I then sent her a polite email asking if she couldn’t mind sharing the entire, unedited exchange, and this was the response I got:


      Please do not contact me again at my workplace, on social media, or by any other means. I will not tolerate threatening behavior. Any further contact from you, and I will file a police report for Harassing Communications. I am carbon copying the City Prosecutor in this matter and will be forwarding him all communications I have received from you. Do not respond to this email or have contact me with any way, form, or fashion.

      This is a very disturbed woman. Much more to come.