Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Erin Andrews Remains in Media Glare, Ethics Debate Rages; CBS News Says 'No Easy Recourse' in Criminal Probe While Airing Nude Video Clip!

The Erin Andrews story remains a hot topic across the Internet. Fox News is running a syndicated piece this morning, with reporting that's three days old: "ESPN Sportscaster Erin Andrews Videotaped Nude Through Hotel Room Peephole."

But in what would seem a shocker, check out CBS Today Show's full story, "
No Easy Recourse Seen After Illicit Video: Analyst Predicts Tough Time Finding Voyeur Who Taped ESPN's Erin Andrews Nude in Hotel Room." The clip shows the actual peephole video, and at times Erin Andrews' naked body is only partially blurred to meet FCC guidelines. Legal commentator Lisa Bloom is interviewed at the story. And to hear her take, its seems logical to ask if anyone watching the CBS report could prosecuted ... [Update, 7-22-09: The CBS video has been taken down; here's CelebTV as a replacement ...]:

USA Today has been doing some very respectable reporting from the consumer safety angle, for example, "Readers Speak Out on Hotel Privacy After Reading About the Secret Filming of a Sportscaster in Her Hotel Room."

But most of the news today has been on the moral angst surrounding the Andrews peephole video. For example see, John Gonzalez, at the Philadelphia Inquirer, "Trafficking in Sleaze?":
A number of journalists have rightly and harshly criticized Site X for posting the video in the first place. That's the sober, expected part of the editorializing happening across the country.

The more complicated part of this unseemly mess is how and why it became a national controversy.

Deadspin has been condemned by some for linking to Site X and greatly increasing its traffic as a result. A.J. Daulerio, the editor of Deadspin and author of three posts about the Andrews video, said he wrote about it because ESPN's lawyers were involved. Daulerio added it would be a story if ESPN's lawyers were forced to take action against someone in possession of an illegal video involving Chris Berman or any nationally known media personality.

Daulerio is right about that. But he was wrong for linking to Site X. He took the link down almost immediately and apologized on Deadspin.

He told me he linked to the site - but not to the actual video - for context. That's an awfully fine line. (Attempts to reach an ESPN spokesman were unsuccessful.)

"We never had any intention of putting the video on our site," Daulerio said. "I wasn't linking to it to show the video. The name of the site is all letters - it sounds like a site someone made up. I didn't link to it to explode the story. It was more like sourcing."

I've known Daulerio for a little while now. We used to work for the same company. We're friends. I believe him when he says he was trying to write a Meta piece about ESPN's lawyers going after some slimy Peeping Tom. Not surprisingly, the nuance of Daulerio's story was lost on a lot of people. As a result, this is a potential game-changer for Deadspin and possibly the blogosphere.

Well, yeah. It's pretty game-changing

As I reported yesterday, reporters for ABC News had to "verify" the authenticity of Andrews tape with their own eyes. See, "Erin Andrews Nude Video Stirs Controversy: ABC News Spies Video for Investigative Value!"

Shouldn't professional journalists be able to respect Andrews' privacy by citing sources verifying the video is genuine? By Monday, no doubt everyone who wanted to see the video had seen it. As Bob Norman wrote, at Broward's New Times:

Well, I find the whole thing to be absolutely sick. Disgusting, repulsive, absolutely offensive, and outrageous. And I'm very happy to report that the video has been taken down from the web. I know because I looked for it. For like a half an hour. (Look, I'm a journalist, and that means, as traumatic is it might be, I have to verify these things with my own eyes. I make these kinds of sacrifices every day, people.) Anyway, here's the picture the Sentinel ran with its story, which happens to be one of the most curvaceous shots of Andrews available anywhere. But don't focus on that part of it! Only a sicko would do that.

As indicated at my report from yesterday above, there are lots of opinions on the sleaze factor, ethical propriety, the appropriate role of women in sports media, and Erin Andrews' professional abilities. Obviously, there are tremendous gender differences to the story, and gender affects moral decision-making. As captured, sadly, by yet another blogger:

Erin Andrews is babelicious, to be sure, but she’d be so much hotter if she embraced her hotness, developed a sense of humor and posed for Playboy already. She’d get a big check, ESPN would get a boost in ratings and no sleazebag could profit off some grainy video anymore.

But recall my earlier reporting on the respectability angle, from Associated Content, "Erin Andrews Peephole Video: What You're Not Seeing":

... although the more cynical will say that Erin Andrews has made it as far as she has primarily because of her looks, it must be noted that, if true, it isn't because she has calculatingly used her beauty to become a popular ESPN sports reporter.

Also, here's CBS Sports columnist, Gregg Doyel, "You Call Yourself a Man? Not While Erin Out Your Fantasies Online":

You're probably not the actual guy who drilled a hole into the wall of her hotel room and filmed her and then put it on the Internet. But chances are, you're among the hundreds of thousands of guys who have searched the Internet for that video. Which means you're among the millions of American males who set this sick scenario into motion by congregating online at the altar of Erin Andrews Imagery. Objectification is yours!>

And you're this country's next wave of husbands and fathers. Terrific.

Honestly, I don't know why I'm even bothering. You don't, and you won't, see your problem. Addicts or idiots -- and you are very possibly both -- never do. You think it's fine to scour the Internet for pictures of Erin Andrews and then find the nearest message board and type, "I'd hit it." As if you'd have a chance at Erin Andrews. Or any attractive woman. See, the general rule of thumb is this: If you've ever uttered the words I'd hit it ... then you really wouldn't. Because you couldn't. Because you're a loser. Ask the woman who works in the cubicle next to you. (First, take your eyes off her breasts.)

You're the guy who goes to strip clubs and shoves $1 bills into a stranger's g-string while she dances in your lap, and you're stupid enough to think you've scored. Your capacity for self-delusion is exceeded only by your incapacity to attract an actual (free) woman. So you go to strip clubs or hire a prostitute or, if you're cheap, you congregate on the Internet and study YouTube videos of Erin Andrews. Look, loser -- there's her butt!

There's more at the link, and Doyel is comprehensive in his condemnation. But comes up with an honest conclusion:

Guess what was No. 2 on the Google Trends list? A search for someone called "Aaron Andrews." I'm not making that up. And just missing the top 10 was the search for "Erin Anderson." I'm not making that up, either. So not only is the typical American male horny and hopeless -- he's stupid.

But he's real. And apparently, since I'm an American male myself, he's ... me.

Yeah, and the guys at ABC News, Bob Norman above at Broward's New Times, and on and on ...

And check out this commentary from CBS sports blogger, BigBluMasochist. The title of the piece is a little off, but otherwise it's outstanding, "OFF TOPIC: Is Erin Andrews a Victim or the Crime?":

Call me jaded; call me cynical. Call me anything you want because I'll be the first to admit that I have a strong tendency to lean towards suspicion and the immoral qualities of people in any given situation. In addition to this, it's pretty clear by now that the younger generation does not have the same moral & personal boundaries that those of us who grew up in the 70's or 80's do. Yes, media desensitization and a decreasing focus on "traditional family" as a concept are partly to blame here. So we didn't have cell phone video cameras and YOUTUBE when I was in school; I don't think I would have had the notion to videotape a girl getting beaten to a bloody pulp and posting it for the entire world's enjoyment. And I wouldn't say my family life was of the "Ozzie and Harriet" variety, either.

Let's look at the first part of my cynisism - jumping to the conclusion that no perverted, sick or degrading act will ever have a lasting affect on public figures. Over the last 20 years or so, the saying "no publicity is bad publicity" has been taken to a whole new level, steadily inclining to what appears to me as a 90 degree angle by now ...

Look around the entertainment world and see the examples ...

Kobe cheated on his wife and publicly lied about it, but no one in Los Angeles cares (his jersey sales haven't slipped either). Add President Bill Clinton and Reverend Jesse "Hymietown" Jackson to that list as well. Randy Moss hit a traffic cop with his car. Eddie Murphy and Hugh Grant were both arrested for public lewdness with prostitutes. And Michael Jackson - who just received the most memorable tribute and celebration in entertainment history - is remembered for his singing and dancing. It certainly wasn't becuase he completely disfigured his face, paid off numerous families keep quiet about his sexual escapades with their children or endagered his own baby's life by dangling it off a balcony. And every time I see his father Joe Jackson being fawned over by some interviewer, I can't help but wonder why they aren't asking the most important question of all: "Do you think that your physical and emotional abuse, incessant rehearsals, whippings and name-calling had anything to do with Michael's problems?"

And just in, People Magazine is reporting, "ESPN Reporter Threatens Lawsuit Over Nude Video."

I have no big takeaway here. I can say that it's clear there are no agreed upon ethical values in today's media reporting. Like sex, voyeurism sells, even for the mainstream press.

For a concluding example, see this surprising story. It turns out that the Huffington Post, which is a political blog and newsite, has a story with video on a controversial faux Pepsi ad which aired in Germany, "UPDATE: Sprite Oral Sex Ad Was Unauthorized (VIDEO)." As the piece notes, " It combines oral sex and the desire for a refreshing Sprite to create a big finish that has to be seen to be believed."

And no doubt many have seen it.

I'll update with more on the Erin Andrews story throughout the day ...


UPDATE: ABC News is back for a second day of reporting the story. See Kate Snow and Russell Goldman, "Law Might Favor Erin Andrews' Peeping Tom: Laws on Video Voyeurism Vary From State to State."

And here's this from Will Leach, at Deadpspin, which broke the story wide open last week, "Erin Andrews and Guilt, Imagined and Otherwise":

In the wake of the awful video that hit the Web over the weekend — actually, it had been hanging around for months, apparently, but no one had seen it — everyone is pointing fingers. It's blogs' fault for objectifying her. It's fans' fault for often caring more about what happens off the field than on. It's ESPN's fault for not strangling this story in the crib when they had the chance. (And they did.) It's her fault. It's our sports culture's fault. It's the fault of the thin walls of a lousy hotel.

None of these things are true, of course, and all of them are. Obviously, the fault lies in the assbag who shot the video in the first place, something this person has made a habit of, ultimately stumbling on someone in the public arena. (Let there be no doubt, though: This could happen to you, your wife, your girlfriend, your daughter. These slugs exist because it's impossible to find a way to kill them all.)

But it's more than that, obviously. That's the reason we're all here and talking about it, aren't we? This is not just any sideline reporter snoop video. It's Erin Andrews. If this is Holly Rowe, or Jill Arrington, or Michele Tafoya, this story is over in a day, if it even goes that far. But it wasn't. It was Erin Andrews. She was not called America's Sideline Sex Object: She was called America's Sideline Princess. Lisa Guerrero posed for Playboy. Jamie Little models when she's not updating us on NASCAR. Andrews was never like that. She was a sideline reporter, and a busy one, sloughing through West Lafayette and regularly traveling with Brent Musburger. It would have been shocking to see her do so much as a photo shoot ...

But that doesn't really matter, does it? It's not like Jamie Little or Lisa Guerrero would deserve a snoop cam video any more than Erin Andrews did. No, the reason the video has gained such traction, and the reason everyone is so upset — and I can assure you, I've yet to talk to a single person, blogger, blog reader, ESPN employee, sideline reporter, upright walking normal human being, who wasn't profoundly disturbed by this — is because we all felt somewhat complicit with Andrews ...
Read the whole thing (here), and check the links, which include a story I missed earlier. From Sports Media Watch, "The Erin Andrews Saga":
Some in the blogosphere have reacted with scorn. The Big Lead notes that "the Erin Andrews fanaticism just veered from fawning and sad to downright disturbing." Erin Andrews Tracker calls it a "a very twisted end to EA’s big week in the spotlight." Fang's Bites says that the "person who took these videos definitely went over the line in a big way."

All of which is true. But for some reason, the reaction rings slightly hollow. For several years, Andrews has been the object of leering from mainstream writers and bloggers alike. She may be one of the most prominent sports broadcasters working today -- and that has nothing to do with her sideline reporting. While this is a brand new low in what has basically been a national stalking of Andrews, comments about how unconscionable it is seem somewhat disingenuous.

Certainly, there are very few -- one would hope none -- in the sports media who support the blatant infringement of Andrews' right to privacy. But when someone is valued solely for their looks -- and becomes a prominent figure solely for their looks -- is it really surprising when members of the fringe of society go over the line?

Consider recent headlines about Andrews. Last week, she was struck in the face by a fly ball. Cue the unsurprising, sophmoric headlines: "
Erin Andrews has balls flying at her face," "Erin Andrews Takes It In The Face," "Erin Andrews can take balls to her chin," and "Sportscaster Erin Andrews gets a facial." The last headline comes not from a blog, but from the Dayton Daily News.There are the countless pictures of Andrews that have been littering the Internet for years. Pictures of her backside, pictures of her 'suggestively' eating a hot dog. Sports Illustrated even recently had an online photo album devoted to Andrews.
Lots more examples and analysis at the link.
Okay, now here come the leftists to take it out on the media for reporting and showing the Andrews video. From Media Matters, "Fox News, CBS air clips of peephole video of ESPN's Erin Andrews."
On July 21, Fox & Friends repeatedly aired numerous video stills from a videotape surreptitiously taken of ESPN sideline reporter Erin Andrews nude in a hotel room. Fox News' stills, which were prominently displayed on-screen, repeatedly showed Andrews' face while covering some of her body parts with lacy red tape. In addition, during CBS' The Early Show, science and technology correspondent Daniel Sieberg played several seconds of the Andrews videotape with parts of her body blurred.
Hey, what a way to take a stand! Media Matters is a Soros-backed media-front for MoveOn.org and radical groups allied with the Democratic Party. Certainly Media Matters can argue against CBS and Fox News for their broadcasts of the Erin Andrews video. But the outlet is far from a neutral observer. The group's attack on CBS and Fox originates less from the perspective of media ethics and more from partisan gain. And here's more on who these people are: Media Matters has been one of the biggest defenders of the anti-Semitic Daily Kos. See, Media Matters, "O'Reilly Defends Comparison of Daily Kos to Nazis and KKK." Well, they are like Nazis, actually. As of this writing Daily Kos still publishes the eliminationist, anti-Semitic screed, "Eulogy before the Inevitability of Self-Destruction: The Decline and Death of Israel."

Added: More outrage at opportunistic press voyeurism. See, "ESPN Reporter Erin Andrews Peephole Pictures Published by New York Post":
The New York Post is once again courting controversy by being the first to post screenshots from the infamous Erin Andrews peephole video on Tuesday. The video shows star ESPN reporter Erin Andrews strolling naked around a hotel room. Andrews’ lawyer, Marshall B. Grossman, said in a statement to the press that the video was illegally obtained through a peephole by a so far unidentified voyeur.
That's from a gossip site called "Snark Food." The editors then proceed to publish a screenshot of the New York Post's cover story, here: "ESPN Hottie Erin Andrews in Peep Shocker: Nude Hotel Video Splashed Online." Of course, the Post's story doesn't skimp on the nude screenshots of Andrews. No doubt this edition flew off the, er, racks ...

Gawker also comments on The Post story, "SICKO PERVS: New York Post Outraged By These Hot Nude Pixxx" (it's a parody that republishes the screenshots).

Another gossip website, PopCrunch, publishes the story with the CBS video posted above, "ESPN Reporter Erin Andrews Threatens Lawsuit Over Nude Peephole Video."

And now TMZ offers another titillating headline, "
Erin Andrews Peeping Tom - Inside Job?":

TMZ has reviewed six videos shot by the peeping Tom who secretly videotaped Erin Andrews in her hotel room as the ESPN reporter walked around naked, not having a clue she was being watched ... and there are signs the person who taped it may be connected with the coverage of athletic events.
More from Deadspin, "ESPN Ignoring Biggest Stories of the Day (IMPORTANT UPDATES)." Plus, Associated Press has the story on the wire services, "ESPN Reporter Secretly Videotaped Nude in Hotel."


UPDATE II: Okay, more on the Lisa Bloom comments at the CBS video above. From Carlos Miller, "
So Now It is a Crime to Even Watch the Erin Andrews Video?":
... now some lawyer is claiming that it is illegal to download the video or view it if you happen to come across it.

CBS News Legal Analyst Lisa Bloom states that viewing or downloading the video is equivalent to “buying or selling stolen property.”

I’m not too sure about that one; the buying and selling of stolen property involves the exchange of money. I would like to hear what my attorney readers have to say about that.

It appears that Bloom is acting on feminist fervor rather than legal logic. She not only is the daughter of feminist attorney Gloria Allred, she is also the attorney who sued the Boy Scouts of America when they did not allow a girl to join the organization. She lost that case.
Also, from Newsweek, "Erin Andrews' Peephole Pictures Are Privacy Porn":
Apparently, no one in this country knows what a naked woman looks like. At least, that’s what media outlets including CBS, The New York Post, and Fox News seem to think. In reporting the story of Erin Andrews, the ESPN reporter who was surreptitiously taped au naturel in her hotel room, these outlets and others found it necessary to include stills from the tape making its way around the internet. It probably seems incredibly na├»ve to ask why – naked ladies increase ratings, duh—but the answer may be a little more complicated—and disturbing—than that.
Plus, Newsday, "ESPN Passes on Story About a Certain ESPN Reporter." And from The Week, "Nabbing the Culprit Behind the Erin Andrews Peephole Pictures: Is it Possible to Catch and Punish the Person Who Shot Video of the ESPN Reporter Naked in Her Hotel Room?" Also, now it turns out Andrews' privacy is turning into a gag line, at Don Chavez's post, "Gisele Bundchen in a Hotel Room (Doesn’t Make Camera Man Hide In Wall)."

The Everday Ethics blog lays down a scold, "Erin Andrews Peephole Video: Are Gawkers Getting What They Deserve?":
It's one thing if you yourself put a video out there for money, or any other reason. It's another if someone violates your privacy by surreptitiously filming you, then releasing the results for millions to see. And while I hold the perpetrator of that crime the most responsibile, those who buy -- or try to beg, borrow, or in this case download -- the product of his criminal act, in full knowledge of the humiliation and pain it causes the victim, are far from blameless.
And more on the investigative side: Hollywood Gossip, "Erin Andrews Naked Video Filmed at Two Hotels?":
An extremely upset Erin Andrews does not know where she was filmed and the person or persons shopping the pics and videos for profit is still at large.

But the videos raise the suspicion that it was an inside job by someone familiar with her schedule - and possibly even traveling on the road with the reporter.
Also, at The Wrap, "Hypocrisy and That Erin Andrews Peephole Video" (covers most of the stuff I reported above, i.e., CBS News and the New York Post).

Noted: These last couple of links are via WeSmirch, where I first learned of the story last Sunday.

Plus, I just found this from Tom Archdeacon, at the Dayton Daily News, "The Assault of Erin Andrews." (The guy goes off on a long tangent that REALLY avoids a lot of the darkness; it's a tough story to write about, no doubt.) More from Sporting News, "NY Post Tops Its Indecency with a Side of Stupidity in Erin Andrews Coverage." (These guys are mad ... won't link, so readers will just plug NY Post + Erin Andrews into Google or Yahoo.com; two cheers on the moral clarity, though.)


UPDATE III: Neil Best at Newsday thinks the Erin Andrews peephole controversy has peaked. See, "Media, Blogs React Strangely to Erin Andrews Saga." He offers some inside perspective on Andrews' life in sports media:
Andrews was the reigning queen of that realm and a good sport about playing along with the obsession over her as the very attractive girl next door.

Still, she knew the fine line she was walking, and told me at Citi Field earlier this year of her concern over some of the darker corners of her fan base.

When one of them emerged from the shadows, it wasn't so much fun anymore for bloggers, and we reacted as if a friend had been violated.

You don't often see that in the snark-infested waters of the Internet.

Is it a stretch to draw a direct line from a lone criminal with a camera to the newspaper and Internet writers who hopped on the Erin bandwagon?

Of course. No sane human approves of what happened, and none of us is directly complicit in the act. But the peculiar culture that grew around her - remember, she is a reporter, not an actress or rock star or model - surely contributed to the ongoing fascination with the video.

Where do we go from here? ...
Check Best's link to see where he thinks we're going. After that, check out this reallly tough essay by Erin Nicks at the Universal Cynic, "Erin on Erin: Through the Sports Media Peephole":
While I reiterate that this never should have happened, I sincerely hope it causes Erin to reconsider certain things about life in the business. Yes, she's a very attractive woman. We all know that, and unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your point of view), nothing can be done about it. However, Erin has previously been under scrutiny for wardrobe choices and flirtatious behaviour in the past. These decisions will likely exacerbate any kind of objectionable treatment she receives. Am I saying she's to blame? No. This isn't a, "girl dresses a certain way, she's getting what's coming to her" rant. The fact of the matter is, that while not all men are capable of doing dangerous/criminal things, most are more than capable of objectifying women to some degree -- be it publicly or privately. The spotlight is on her in such a male-dominated business, and her appearance adds to that. Anything -- and I mean ANYTHING that can be perceived as questionable (a hand on a player's shoulder or a dress cut to mid-thigh) can and will lead down a slippery slope.
That's the most cutting section, of which I don't really agree, from the standpoint of an observer who's been blogging this story for three days. I'm not a sports insider though, and I'm a guy. So, check out the recommendations there for where Erin Andrews should go ...

By the way, I found that piece at Michael Rand's compilation, "Rounding Up and Reacting to the Erin Andrews Reactions." I've pretty much covered all of that stuff already. But Rand adds some commentary of his own.

Okay, here's more: At Canada's National Post, Bruce Arthur pretty much eviscerates not just the voyeuristic culture that incubated the Andrews peephole crime, but the participants in the event as well, no matter how distant or detached. It's scathing, "Andrews Video Nothing Short of Appalling":
In the United States, however, Erin Andrews is famous. She is beautiful, and a consummate professional. She has been promoted by ESPN, and has especially been the object of fascination in the blogosphere. There have been photos of her eating a hot dog, or photos of her posterior in tight pants. There has been leering, right from the start.

And sometime in the last year or so, that leering went several steps further when somebody drilled through a wall and filmed at least one peephole video of Andrews as she walked around a hotel room, naked. The video apparently hit the Internet a few months ago, and was sitting around generally unnoticed. This weekend deadspin.com, the most popular sports blog on the Internet, linked to a pornographic site hosting the video. And the whole thing exploded.

To be clear, I haven't seen the video, since I prefer not to be an after-the-fact accessory to this particular crime. But the frenzy has been so widespread that at one point on Tuesday, the subject occupied six of the top 40 spots on Google Trends, which measures the popularity of search topics on the world's dominant search engine.

This despite widespread warnings that in the toxic laboratory of the Web, many purported Andrews videos have instead been designed to unleash computer viruses and malicious software. Many sites have also deleted the video due to legal warnings from ESPN, but now it's out there, and there is no dragging it back.

To be honest, it feels dirty just writing about this, because it only devotes more attention to a criminal invasion of privacy, and could send more people searching out the product of such an invasion. Please don't. This was, to be clear, the voyeuristic equivalent of rape.

The question, for the rest of us, is how we react. Some of us in the media, old and new, have been complicit. Deadspin, the most influential sports blog there is, linked to the video and only retracted when the pressure mounted.

But don't just blame the Internet. The New York Post, a bastion of tasteless journalism, published a still from the video on its front page, and a series of partially blurred or obscured stills on its website; both the CBS and FOX News morning shows did the same. We're all worse off, as an industry, for that.

So who, besides the slimebag on the other end of the video camera, is at fault here? What led to this? It's not a question that can be definitively answered. The blogs that trafficked in Erin Andrews traffic are, in some cases, engaged in self-examination; Will Leitch, the founding editor of Deadspin who left last year, wrote that while he didn't see a causal link between the leering coverage and the video, "If I ran into her on the street today ... I'm not sure I could look her in the eye. I'm not sure anybody could."
There's more, here.

And finally, here's Clay Travis at Fanhouse, "Erin Andrews Video Straddles Sports Culture's Sexual Fault Line":

I think virtually every person who has seen the video agrees that it crosses the line of propriety by a large stretch. But what hasn't been really talked about very much is why Erin Andrews represents more than just herself, she's a symbolic figure, a Rorschach test for modern sexual politics. Don't believe me? Dive into my mind. If you dare.

I'll begin by answering this question: Can a very attractive woman ever be so good at what she does for a living that her attractiveness is ignored by men? I think the answer is no. No matter how equal the sexes ever become. And I get why that totally sucks for professional women ...

Probably for the betterment of our society most women have no clue how sex-obsessed we men are in our ordinary lives. I know many women claim to understand, but they don't actually get it. It's like men claiming to understand the pain of giving birth. In theory, we get the concept, but we can't really grasp it. Men help hide this obsession because deep down we're all a little embarrassed by how much sex or the pursuit of sex motivates our actions. At least those of us who are smart enough to realize it. Marketers, television executives, movie producers, and others who make a living off society at large are not surprised by these obsessions. It's why every time I see one of those CSI-type shows, it involves a sex-crime gone awry. Often with a hot, young victim.

Remember back when Cinemax's soft core porn got you through high school? Well, now we live in a softcore porn universe. Everyone toes the line as best they can because sex moves products. Unless, God forbid, Janet Jackson's nipple gets revealed. And then, my God? What of the children?

We've drawn a weird line here that allows some companies in America to make money off sex while claiming that they aren't actually selling sex. Meet sports leagues. They support the troops. They would never sell sex. Except when they do.

Which ties right in with Andrews. Let's be clear, she's smart. She's good at what she does on the sideline; she's well-prepared, hard-working, professional, and always ready when the camera cuts to her. But, and this is the kicker, how many people in America could do Andrews' job for ESPN every bit as well as she does? I'll tell you, tens of thousands. Maybe even a million. Put plainly, Andrews wouldn't have her job if she looked like YouTube signing sensation Susan Boyle. No matter how good she was. She just wouldn't. Her looks open doors for her that no one else gets to walk through.

Now, once she's through that door she can demonstrate that she deserves the opportunity, that she's actually good at her craft. But it's her looks that open that door. And ESPN put her on television for one reason, because viewers, mostly male, are sexually attracted to her. Put it this way, if Andrews comes on the screen and the television is muted while I'm doing work, am I more likely to turn on the television to hear what she says than if it's an unattractive woman or Chris Berman?


Does that make me stupid?


Does that make me like just about every other male watching television?

I think so.

And Google proves it. While we all may be wagging our heads and tut-tutting about the immorality of the video in question, Google search knows all of our private obsessions. And Google search confirms that come Monday morning, "Erin Andrews" and derivatives were the two most popular search terms in Google; the search graph looks like a bull market. Even by this afternoon as I write this, she was still sixth, seventh and eighth ...
Actually, there's more, here. And there's added bonus at the essay, "Sports Internet Scandals" (scroll down; it's a photo slideshow ... and who knew about all of this?!!).


shoprat said...

In such a circumstance the smart thing to do would be for her to not even acknowledge it and let it die for lack of controversy. It desperately to be ignored.

smitty1e said...

I have no big takeaway here. I can say that it's clear there are no agreed upon ethical values in today's media reporting. Like sex, voyeurism sells, even for the mainstream press.

Donald, we've pissed off some friends. See my discussion in the comments.
I'll be putting a reasonable amount of time into a "Rule 5 Ethics" code, just to keep my conscience clean.
Maybe I'm over-reading your policy, but you seem to be taking a rather "Pontius Pilate" view of the whole thing.
I submit that we may have blown a few cool points with some folks. It may not be a major item with you. But, if it is, maybe we can work together to unruffle a couple of feathers.

EDGE said...


I couldn't agree more.

Anonymous said...

Of all the important issues facing this country this is insignificant in comparison. She is woman so let her roar and after almost 50 tears of feminism I do not care anymore. If your damned if you do and damned if you do not then why care.
Please, do not give me the sister, mother, daughter et al meme because women completely ignore the vice of that. They do not give a thought to the men in their lives other than as a convenient person to blame.

Grizzly Mama said...

I think what has happened to her is terrible. I'm shocked to have seen a blurry image from the video on the front page of a newspaper at a convenience store last night on my way into work.

It's just too much - I'd never even heard of the woman until I read about it here! But it seems that she has taken a lot of abuse in her job based on the information that you've compiled here, and I feel really bad for her - not just the video but everything she's had to put up with before that terrible violation of her privacy. She must be mortified.