Erin Andrews Was Torn Apart By A Los Angeles Daily News Columnist: Was He Fair?

  • Matt Rudnitsky

The casual sports fan loves Erin Andrews. I’m a rising college senior, and when I went to College GameDay in Ann Arbor last year, the cheers for Andrews were almost as loud as those for Wolverine legend Desmond Howard. The audience was littered with giant signs of her face. She’s a veritable celebrity, and one with an overwhelming public approval rating.

But apparently, ESPN didn’t try that hard to keep her, and now she’s taking her talents to FOX. Now, about a week after the move was officially announced, Tom Hoffarth of the Los Angeles Daily News wrote a column absolutely tearing Andrews to shreds. He doesn’t seem to agree with the public opinion.

“The assumption is someone at Fox watched Andrews carom through week after week as solo host of the early expanded version on ESPN’s “College GameDay,” given an hour to read off her notes and awkwardly ad-lib on ESPNU before the real crew came to start the party. And they still hired her, apparently distracted enough into thinking she did a real swell job.”

This is a fair criticism. We’re not sure that we agree, but we understand. There are people out there that feel this way. It’s not unfounded.

But then Hoffarth starts attacking Andrews’ character to strengthen his argument. And it’s not pretty.

“A byproduct of the media world where it’s almost impossible anymore to be embarrassed by Twitter, YouTube, TMZ, Flickr or a racy text message – and with an appearance on an Oprah show always there to catch you when you need to explain what it’s like to be a victim in a celebrated Peeping Tom case — Andrew’s career arch has been bafflingly spectacular, titillating the masses who’ve apparently just stopped caring.”

Andrews was the victim of a Peeping Tom case. Yes, she went on Oprah explaining it. How is that relevant to her move to FOX? Calling her out for this is unnecessary and disrespectful. She was the victim of an incident involving a dude who planted a camera in the peephole of her hotel room door. There’s no need to act like this should be counted against her.

“The Erin Andrews Effect, as sports media phenomena, is attracting more female communications majors into taking as many shortcuts as possible to grab a coveted sideline reporting job or studio host instead of risking the time and challenge necessary to try play-by-play, game analyst, or even what’s still referred to journalism at a magazine, newspaper or website.”

Again, this is unfounded. How is this supposed “Erin Andrews Effect” something that attracts female communications majors to take shortcuts? Andrews was a telecommunications major at Florida, worked for Fox Sports Florida in 2000, the Sunshine Network for 2001-2002, and Turner South from 2002-2004. Her jobs? A freelance reporter, Tampa Bay Lightning reporter, and a studio host and reporter for Atlanta franchises. Hoffarth’s analysis here is just lazy and wrong.

He pegs Andrews as the reason behind an epidemic of females taking shortcuts, which he claims exists (with no evidence). But she clearly paid her dues, working for five years before being hired by ESPN. How she took “shortcuts,” let alone inspired an epidemic of females taking shortcuts, I can’t understand. Sure, she didn’t try play-by-play or newspaper journalism, but so what? They’re different jobs. If Andrews wants to be on TV, she’s allowed to be on TV. Just as Hoffarth is allowed to practice his type of journalism. Her choice of journalistic specialization isn’t up for attack.

“You’d think that by now, someone would have realized that her actions speak louder than her nasally vapid words.”

When attacking someone’s credibility, ad-hominem attacks are unwise. Whether her voice is “nasally” or not, calling her words vapid is scathing, again, without evidence. It wouldn’t be difficult to find a segment of her reporting a deep, emotional story on College GameDay.

“It speaks to the premise behind HBO’s new outstanding series, “The Newsroom.” Which is more important: Driving ratings or doing the news the right way?”

This may be the biggest problem with the column. If you don’t think she’s a great journalist, fine. That’s reasonable. But attacking her for “claim(ing) not to understand her own fame,” signing a shoe deal and just generally ripping her for having sex appeal is unfair. Having sex appeal is not doing news the wrong way. Andrews may not be the most talented journalist in sports, but she doesn’t do things the wrong way. Hoffarth can attack her talent all he wants, but undermining her integrity without any fair evidence is unscrupulous.

Hoffarth even acknowledges that his publication picks up stories about Andrews because she attracts viewers. So does that mean they’re doing things the wrong way? Are they unethical? Absolutely not.

Just like writers have the right to criticize a player’s performance, Hoffarth can say he thinks Andrews is awkward, untalented, or whatever he happens to think. That’s fine. But just as a balanced journalist wouldn’t say a struggling quarterback is doing things the “wrong way,” because he just isn’t good enough, Hoffarth should keep his criticisms to her on-air performance, rather than her ethics, unless he has better evidence.

[h/t Richard Deitsch; Inside SoCal]