Commentary: Britt McHenry’s ‘Intense and Stressful Moment’

By Mark Joyella 

ESPN reporter Britt McHenry has apologized for saying some “insulting and regrettable things” to a woman who apparently set McHenry off by merely doing her job. For that, she was subjected to a series of insults that were indeed “regrettable,” but also highly revealing about McHenry. “I am so sorry for my actions,” she said, “and will learn from this mistake.”

Mistake, sure. People make mistakes, and this fits the bill. What’s interesting is McHenry’s explanation for what she did. “In an intense and stressful moment, I allowed my emotions to get the best of me,” she said. Losing a loved one is intense and stressful. Losing a job is intense and stressful. Getting your car towed? Please.

But I wasn’t there, of course. Perhaps this was a truly stressful incident that pushed McHenry to her limits–though it doesn’t seem that way in the video. Watching the video, she appears far from a woman in the midst of a “meltdown” as some have described it, or a “temper tantrum.” Instead, she appears to be a person being cool, calm, and utterly classless.

But again, we must remember the intense and stressful moment McHenry found herself in. You know, the kind of intense and stressful moment that practically compels you to say things like “do you feel good about your job? So I could be a college dropout and do the same thing? Why, ’cause I have a brain and you don’t?”

You know, that kind of stress. The kind of stress that makes you suddenly feel the need to argue–quite unconvincingly, actually–that you are better than someone else. “I’m on television and you’re in a f—ing trailer, honey,” McHenry says. (Side note: there are few more pathetic justifications for your worth than telling a stranger “I’m on television.”)

But in this case, as we’ve seen, she was indeed on television–thanks to the kind of surveillance camera that catches people showing us who and what they really are.