A rigid rule of life: Never ever ask someone “Do you know who I am?” — particularly when you’re irate at how you’re being treated. I’ve been in TV for a long time, so for starters, my fragile ego would be crushed when my antagonist replied, “I have no earthly idea.” Second, always remember that everything you do is being recorded by cameras that are now everywhere, except the bathroom … at least some bathrooms.
We don’t need to tell that to Britt McHenry who, of all things, makes her living on-camera, presenting herself as one of the many blond, young female news and sportscasters who are all over TV these days. Fox News is crawling with them, but Britt McHenry is on ESPN, which obviously wants to attract male viewers.
Well, she was off ESPN for a week, suspended after, you guessed it, she was caught on camera chewing out a woman who worked for the towing company that had taken her car.
Never mind that the operation is frequently labeled predatory for lurking in private parking lots and hooking up cars whose owners have left the property, often just for a moment. Ms. McHenry’s tirade was so nasty, so tacky, so obviously reflecting the thinking of a person with a grossly inflated sense of entitlement, that the widespread impressions of her switched from pretty to petty.
I should point out here that she has a decent resume — a college soccer player who then attended the Medill graduate program in journalism at Northwestern, which is one of the best. But obviously, what she didn’t learn was a sense of perspective about herself.
“I’m on television, and you’re in a (expletive) trailer, honey,” she hissed as she arrived to reclaim her car and pay well over $100 to get it back. “Lose some weight, baby girl.” On and on she went, even though she was made aware that cameras were recording the entire tirade.
Frankly, it was fun to see her get her comeuppance, even at the hands of a scumbag towing operation, which twisted the knife by putting out an ooey-gooey statement expressing concern for McHenry: “She is human, and errors in judgement can be made in the heat of the moment.” Talk about killing someone with kindness.
Perhaps the 28-year-old sportscaster will get a lesson or two about keeping her bratty meltdowns off-camera. Maybe she’ll even figure out how to finesse the videos and use them to her advantage.
Hillary Clinton has proven that she’s learned a thing or two about that as she made her I’m-just-a-regular-person opening contrivance of her presidential campaign, during the trek from New York state to Iowa’s “everyday” people/voters in her minivan. The real stroke of genius was a stop she made in Ohio to get some food at Chipotle. Gee, what a surprise: A surveillance camera caught her as she ordered her burrito bowl, just like you and me. And surprise, surprise, the media were able to find out about the moment.
Score one for Hillary. She has handily manipulated the news organizations into breathlessly covering her every move as she tries to overcome an image of entitlement that has long bedeviled her. She’s just one of the gang, she’s saying, sharing concerns, for instance, about the bloated pay the privileged get while everyone else struggles to just get by.
Despite those $200,000 speaking fees and all the rest, Hillary Clinton is one of us. Of course, the Republicans are teeing off on her since she’s a lock for the Democratic nomination. But they need to be careful: Go too far, and they’ll turn her into a sympathetic figure. Like Britt McHenry did with the towing company.
Bob Franken is a longtime broadcast journalist, including 20 years at CNN.