What'll Happen To Britt McHenry Now? ESPN Is Big On Second Chances
After video emerged Thursday of ESPN reporter Britt McHenry aggressively berating and taunting a tow lot attendant, insulting the attendant's education, weight, and dental hygiene, among other things, the punishment has been handed down: she's been suspended from the air for one week, effective immediately. And if you're wondering what'll happen to Britt McHenry next, well, her employer's track record on controversial outbursts seems relevant.
McHenry, 28, previously worked at ABC before departing for ESPN in April of last year. And as employers go, ESPN might not be the worst place for her to be right now — they've doled out some on-air talent suspensions before, and by and large, the people involved have gotten to come back as strong as ever once the time's been served. Some high-profile incidents include the three-week suspension of longtime ESPN employee and Grantland Editor-in-Chief Bill Simmons for his criticism of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, the one-week suspension of Stephen A. Smith for his offensive remarks about domestic violence, and the one-month suspension of anchor Max Bretos for a perceived racial pun about Asian-American NBA player Jeremy Lin.
But all three of those personalities are still gainfully employed by the monolithic sports network, and as such McHenry has reason to feel positively about things. One week is clearly on the lower end of the scale as far as punishment she might have received, and she'll likely be back on the air in short order. It's not as though ESPN hasn't tolerated, shall we say, challenging personalities before — this infamous video of longtime anchor Chris Berman berating an in-studio staff speaks to that, if nothing else.
For what it's worth, despite the wildly offensive nature of her remarks (she apologized for the incident on Twitter Thursday), the tow company whose attendant she excoriated released a statement making it clear that they didn't want her to be suspended. Here it is, as printed by the Washington Post:
Parking enforcement is contentious by nature. At the same time, neither Gina, our lot clerk, nor our company, have any interest in seeing Britt McHenry suspended or terminated as a result of her comments.
Ms. McHenry is our neighbor, and, as she said, to paraphrase, made remarks that were out of line. She is human and errors in judgement can be made in the heat of the moment.
Gina is a single mother of 3 children who works a difficult job to provide her family. Gina holds no ill will toward Ms. McHenry.
As a small regulated business, we saw no benefit to releasing the video, except to highlight personal attacks employees in jobs like towing, public parking enforcement and others sometimes encounter. The video was not licensed or sold to anyone.