Britt McHenry

ESPN reporter Britt McHenry became massively infamous in April 2015 thanks to the release of a video of her berating a parking lot attendant (with references to the attendant’s weight, appearance and education) after her car was towed, the subsequent one-week suspension she was handed by ESPN, the people at the Worldwide Leader who reportedly wanted her to be fired, and her eventual return to the airwaves, apology and request for a second chance.

Now, McHenry is back in the news, as she spoke to Marie Claire‘s Abigail Pesta this week about the parking-lot incident and its aftermath. The piece starts with her talking about the blowback she received and the mental effects that had on her and her family, but it gets particularly notable when it comes to her description of the physical symptoms that happened to her:

It’s hard to describe how it feels to have people dislike you when they don’t even know you. It takes a toll on your mind and body alike. In fact, in dealing with all the stress, the vision in my right eye grew cloudy. I could no longer see clearly; everything was a blur. I went to a retinal specialist, who diagnosed me with CSR, a condition in which vision is impaired, often due to trauma or extreme stress. Neither medication nor time helped alleviate the problem. I had no choice but to start a series of injections directly into my eye to try to regain my vision and prevent further damage. The first time I watched the needle approach my eye (yes, you’re awake for this!), I broke down, halting the process until I could regain my composure. I was a wreck, not so much because of the injection, but because of what had brought me to that point.

It would become the first of endless injections, and I still flinch every time. The doctor says the vision in my eye might never improve.
That’s worth reading as a reminder that criticism of anyone, even famous personalities, can have significant effects on them. It doesn’t mean that all of the criticism of McHenry was unfounded, or that her actions weren’t worth condemning; in fact, she goes on to take the blame for her actions, but to also say “The video is not who I am.” However, it does perhaps serve as a reminder to be careful in how you criticize. As for McHenry herself, she wraps up the piece with a comment that she’ll keep working to prove she’s more than just that mistake:
I know now that as soon as you feel an empowering moment of success, you can experience a moment of utter failure just as fast. It’s what you do after those moments that defines you. None of us should be judged solely by our worst mistakes. And, when you get the opportunity, you should work as hard as you can to prove that.
Overall, that piece is a pretty good statement from McHenry, taking responsibility for her actions and talking about how the criticism affected her. She made a terrible mistake,  and that’s always going to be associated with her, but her approach (“focus on the present and on how to make myself a better person every day”) seems like a good one, as does her speaking to classes about how to be mindful of your words. However, none of that excuses her past behavior, and claims that “that’s not who I am” only matter if you back them up with action. We’ll see where she goes from here.
[Marie Claire]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.

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