Back in April 2015, ESPN reporter and Burlington County native Britt McHenry was caught on video verbally attacking a towing company’s cashier after her car was towed in Arlington, Va.
The video showed McHenry belittling Advanced Towing employee Gina Michelle by making fun of her weight, lack of education, teeth, and living conditions, all while being warned she was being recorded (warning: offensive language).
ESPN reportedly wanted to fire McHenry, but settled on a one-week suspension after she apologized on Twitter for her “hurtful actions” and asked for a second chance amid a torrent of vulgar and sexist comments directed at her on social media.
Back to work. Excited to be covering Caps-Isles today. Now that the suspension is over, I want to say again (cont) http://t.co/NtBTwtajnV
— Britt McHenry (@BrittMcHenry) April 25, 2015
Those angry comments apparently had a direct effect on McHenry, who told Marie Claire that she would stay up late at night reading comments about the incident on blogs that blasted her for being a “bleach-blond bubblehead” and “a sorry excuse for a human being.”
Eventually, she said, the stress become so intense it led to her vision becoming blurry and caused her right eye to grow cloudy.
“I went to a retinal specialist, who diagnosed me with CSR, a condition in which vision is impaired, often due to trauma or extreme stress,” McHenry said, as told by Abigail Pesta.
The condition only seemed to get worse over time and medications weren’t effective in reversing the problem. With her career in jeopardy, McHenry said, her only choice was to get a series of injections directly into her eye.
“The first time I watched the needle approach my eye (yes, you're awake for this!), I broke down, halting the process until I could regain my composure,” McHenry said. “I was a wreck, not so much because of the injection, but because of what had brought me to that point.”
McHenry continues to receive injections, and despite telling Marie Claire the video was edited to make it look like she was the only one doing the talking, she admits she never should have said what she did.
“I blame myself, but the video is not who I am,” McHenry said.
A quick glance at social media posts directed at McHenry show a much different tone than the days following the leak of the video:
— T Arnpriester (@t_arnpriester) December 13, 2016
@BrittMcHenry We have all done something we have regretted. The true test is how we respond and you have done so very well.
— Ryan Senior (@C02155) December 13, 2016
@BrittMcHenry I will not judge you. As a celebrity you are a target. We all lose it sometimes, your only human like the rest of us.
— Hector Munivez (@socalbucfan5) December 13, 2016
@BrittMcHenry We've all made mistakes. The way we fix our mistakes is the key.
— Tim Marion (@marion_tim) December 13, 2016
Still, some aren’t buying the ESPN reporter's story of guilt and contrition.
New York Post columnist Evan Grossman blasted McHenry for writing a “pity piece nobody wanted to hear,” noting that the host still has her job, her car and her house, and that the story will only resurface the same vile comments she's tried so hard to avoid.
“As far as we can tell, you've done nothing to solve the problem,” Grossman wrote. “So the next time someone wants you to tell your side of the story again, just say, ‘No comment.’”