FOX hired Erin Andrews away from ESPN, granting the Los Angeles Daily News’ Tom Hoffarth the opportunity to revisit his jaundiced hate-stalking of the television personality. His withering critique dropped the bombshell that Ms. Andrews is attractive and this may have benefitted her television career. This is, he believes, her fault.
That no matter how much you’d think she was adding to a college football broadcast – and ESPN has been top-notch in that department for years – it’ll be the shots of her on the ESPY’s red carpet, an ethically challenged decision to promote a sports shoe without her company’s approval or another photo spread in GQ where she’s wearing eye black in a sweaty locker room that are seared into our minds, which somewhat explain the interviews she’s done over the years with wide-eyed, adrenaline-challenged 12-year-olds at the Little League World Series.
Yes, her appearance has shaped and enhanced her career. Television is a visual medium. Erin Andrews has received opportunities she otherwise would not have gotten. So, sticking within the same sport on the same network, have Kirk Herbstreit and Jesse Palmer. Television creates a visual culture that enhances the importance of superficial factors, such as physical appearance. This has been readily apparent to everyone since John Kennedy won the 1960 presidential election.
Hoffarth endows Andrews with a great deal of influence and asserts she is a pernicious influence, subverting women entering the sports media into cheap professions, which he terms “the Erin Andrews Effect.”
The Erin Andrews Effect, as sports media phenomena, is driving more female communications majors into taking as many shortcuts as possible to grab a coveted sideline reporting or studio host job instead of risking the time and challenge necessary to try play-by-play, game analysis, or even what’s still referred to journalism at a magazine, newspaper or website.
This statement is absurd. Hoffarth provides no demonstrable evidence for this “effect” beyond the initial assertion, because there isn’t any. Such a claim requires a period where women were not typecast and shunted into superficial roles based on their appearance. That never existed.
If we’re going to chastise individuals for promoting less edifying work that pays more, why not examine the effect Tony Kornheiser and Mike Wilbon’s success with PTI turning every male columnist into a bloviating, TV-money chasing blowhard?
Erin Andrews neither created nor fostered a culture that objectifies attractive women. She is capitalizing on it. Michelle Beadle, whose hiring Hoffarth describes as “justifiable,” profits from it similarly. Beadle is indeed charming, talented and intelligent, but her career probably plays out differently if she looks like the female equivalent of Woody Paige. Television remains a place where even showing a caustic, though still attractive, brunette is considered bold.
The point is not how little Erin Andrews has done for women in media. It is how little anyone has done to address the true issue, which is not “a certain type of woman” but a pervasive, sexualized male culture that well predates the Internet and modern media. If you’re inclined to view Erin Andrews as a problem (we’re not advocating that), the problem rests with the salivating men granting her undue opportunities not her, entirely logically, accepting them.
[Photo via Getty]