By KATIE HOVAN
Earlier this week, Fox sportscaster Erin Andrews finished testifying in a $75 million lawsuit against a stalker and the owner of a Nashville Marriott hotel.
Andrews claims that the hotel allowed a stalker to occupy the room next to hers in 2008. The stalker, Michael David Barrett, recorded nude footage of Andrews through a peephole and leaked the videos onto the Internet. Barrett has since served time in prison for his crime.
Andrews believes both the hotel and her stalker are responsible for emotional damage.
In her testimony, Andrews also alleged that ESPN, her employer at the time, refused to let her continue reporting on college football until she spoke publicly about the matter. Andrews said that the network wanted her to clarify whether or not the incident had been a publicity stunt.
In a field like journalism, where the “truth” is of the utmost importance, Andrews’ situation begs the question: when is human compassion more important than an accurate story?
If you ask me, ESPN undeniably overstepped its boundaries by asking a woman who was a victim of sexual exploitation to relive the incident on national television.
Whether or not it had been a publicity stunt, ESPN should have treated the statements of a fellow employee with the highest respect and consideration. Forcing any person, male or female, to speak about such a sensitive subject is a tasteless invasion of privacy.
I truly hope that Andrews is exaggerating the way ESPN addressed the situation. It would be a shame to learn that such a respected sports news network lacked the basic human compassion necessary in dealing with sexual exploitation.
As a note for other networks in the future: sometimes “getting the story” just isn’t worth the damage to a person’s mental and emotional health. Always be cautious.