“I’m in the news, sweetheart.”
So began the tirade—if a steely, sneering string of vitriol can fairly be called a "tirade"—delivered to an anonymous recipient, a worker at a towing garage, by the ESPN reporter Britt McHenry. McHenry's car had apparently been towed while she was having dinner two weeks ago in Arlington, Virginia; she was forced to go to the garage to retrieve it—and, of course, to pay for the towing. McHenry, understandably, was not happy about this. She also did not seem to realize that the garage in question was equipped with a surveillance camera. These two facts culminated in a conversation with the garage attendant that included such comments as:
“I will fucking sue this place.”
“So I could be a college dropout and do the same thing?”
“I’m on television and you’re in a fucking trailer, honey.”
“Lose some weight, baby girl.”
The towing company released the video of McHenry to the site LiveLeak; yesterday, LiveLeak released it to the world. As a result—McHenry being a popular personality on ESPN—a hefty chunk of the Internet has witnessed McHenry's comments. (Deadspin's post on the fracas has gotten more than 1 million views.) Even if you don't watch sports TV, there's something irresistibly sad—and intriguing, and thought-provoking, and sad once again—about a famous woman who bears an uncanny resemblance to Regina George sneering at an anonymous service worker, “I’m on television and you’re in a fucking trailer, honey.”
Many news outlets, in reporting on the video, referred to the exchange as a "meltdown" on McHenry's part. It was not, to be clear, a meltdown. Sure, McHenry may have been frustrated and flummoxed and angry—who wouldn't be, after having had a car towed?—but her reaction did not, fundamentally, reflect frustration or anger. It was instead a very measured, ad-hominem attack on a person whom McHenry clearly deemed to be—in terms of appearance and education and wealth and class and status—beneath her.