ESPN Suspends Host for Fashion Rant

Yesterday, Tony Kornheiser, D.C. radio personality and host of ESPN’s “Pardon the Interruption,” was suspended for making the following comments about SportsCenter anchor Hannah Storm:

“Hannah Storm in a horrifying, horrifying outfit today,” Kornheiser said. “She’s got on red go-go boots and a catholic school plaid skirt … way too short for somebody in her 40s or maybe early 50s by now.

“She’s got on her typically very, very tight shirt. She looks like she has sausage casing wrapping around her upper body … I know she’s very good, and I’m not supposed to be critical of ESPN people, so I won’t … but Hannah Storm … come on now! Stop! What are you doing?”

I’m interested to hear your thoughts about Kornheiser’s comments and punishment in the comments, but first, here are my thoughts.

1) I doubt the punishment would have been this severe if Kornheiser was a woman.  Joan Rivers says horrible things about the way people dress and has made a very good career out of it.  Change Hannah Storm to actress Teri Hatcher and stick her on a red carpet and no one would think twice about proclaiming her too old for that dress or too fat for that shirt.

I think if this had been a woman, the press would describe the incident as a cat fight, the transgressor would apologize and we would move on.  

2) On a related note, if someone were to send me a photo of a middle-aged woman in red, knee high boots, a short plaid skirt, and a skin tight top, the odds are fairly good that I would post that photo. Provided, of course, that the face wasn’t showing and she wasn’t a Member of Congress, a Cabinet Secretary or some other person who could get me canned with a phone call.  What can I say?  I’m a coward who likes health insurance and a steady paycheck.

3) But perhaps the problem isn’t that Kornheiser is a man, perhaps it is the medium and the context.  He didn’t insult her clothes on a fashion blog, he insulted them on a TV show aired on the same network that she works for.  I don’t care who you are, that’s going to hurt.  And it’s going to bruise with added zing when you are one of the few women at the top of a male dominated industry.  

4) As for the comments themselves, I think that was a tasteless and rude thing to say about your female co-worker.  His remarks contain comments about her age, her body and an unmistakable sexual connotation.  And he made them on-air on his radio show for a cheap laugh.

Should he have been suspended?  I don’t know, that’s really up to Storm and ESPN. But either way, there are plenty of groups who are going to want his head on a platter.  So this probably is not the end of this story.

And in case you are curious as to whether he apologized, he has:

“I apologize, unequivocally … I’m a sarcastic, subversive guy … I’m a troll, look at me. I have no right to insult what anybody looks like or what anybody wears. That, I think, should go without saying.” 

So ladies and gentlemen, what do you think? Was Kornheiser out of line?  And was the apology enough or should he be suspended/fired? Leave your thoughts in the comments, but remember to play nice with the other commenters or else I’ll have to get cozy with the delete key.  


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  1. Princess Freckles says:

    Maybe she needed to hear that? Yes, he was rude, but seriously, what 40+ year old woman (or really any woman for that matter) should ever wear a plaid skirt (which if it truly was a "Catholic School Girl" type skirt belongs on no woman over the age of 18 unless she is alone with her boyfriend/husband in the bedroom!) with red go-go boots and skin tight anything? Sick! He shouldn’t have said that on the air, but I’m sure it was hilarious when he did, and ESPN isn’t CSPAN! Hopefully now she will think twice before dressing like a fool for work!

    February 24, 2010/Reply
  2. Some Random Guy says:

    A copy of the outfit of which TK was commenting about. While I see the whole ripping into a woman in a male dominated field being tough, but I think if a woman is trying to use her sex appeal to generate buzz about herself then she has already made the point of wanting her outfit to be notice and so the game of being criticized for it should be fair game as well.
    Also, TK has been known to mock Michael Wilbon’s clothing on multiple occasions so it is not like it is without precedent.

    February 24, 2010/Reply
  3. BRM says:

    I am almost certain that the comments were made on his local radio show, not on Pardon The Interruption.

    As a female listener of his radio show, I have to say that I think that suspending Tony Kornheiser for two weeks is a bit extreme. You are right to say that if this was one woman commenting on another woman’s outfit it would been over with a simple apology. His sense of humor is extremely sardonic and he typically makes fun of himself on a daily basis. I thought his apology was appropriate enough to diffuse the situation.

    February 24, 2010/Reply
  4. DCGal says:

    What the hell? Storm looks fine. It was highly insensitive of Kornheiser to say the least. And yes, it is in line with the sexism that women in male-dominated fields experience regularly – e.g. comments about their appearance and not about anything of substance.

    February 24, 2010/Reply
  5. Mikaela says:

    I do not think she needed to hear that. Who are we to judge someone for how they are dressed. Yes….yes, I disagree with the way people dress all the time, but sometimes the best thing to do (especially if its a co-worker) is to keep your mouth shut. A close friend, maybe a relative might find fashion advice helpful, but from a fellow co-worker to another in front of millions of people…I am sorry, but I do not find that helpful, just insulting. Also, I found his comments to be extremely sexist and derogatory. Typical ESPN. I had a friend who was an intern there, she was a beautiful young woman who knew more about sports than Merv Albert and she was sexually harassed everyday she was there. This is not about fashion, this is about discrediting women anchors in anyway possible, disguising it as fashion criticism that woman typically engage in. This is much deeper than just fashion advice.

    February 24, 2010/Reply
  6. Allison says:

    Haha I own that skirt! It’s from JCrew. I am not very tall though, so on me it hits at my knee. I wear it with black opaque tights and black flat boots with a sweater. I am surprised that no one has mentioned that she probably didn’t dress herself. Most news anchors etc. are dressed my someone from the channel, in this case ESPN. While I do like the skirt with the right outfit, red boots with heels should not be worn by anyone, and the combo just looks bad. Although, we should recognize that she was probably dressed like that by the wardrobe person because they were probably trying to give her a certain look. (tight+red+short=mens attention on a channel with a male dominated viewer market)

    February 24, 2010/Reply
  7. SR says:

    While I don’t work in sports media, I would be mortified if one of my colleagues made a public comment about my appearance that was so negative. There was a lack of professionalism in his comments and there seems to be some hostility there as well which is not uncommon in areas where the female to male ratio is low (the "you don’t belong here so go somewhere else" mentality).

    Before I saw the picture, I was imagining some terrible Britney Spears school girl get up, but I think she looks put together. Admittedly, it’s not my style but I’ve seen far worse on tv media outlets. People will perceive what they want from the look, but it’s certainly not over the top and distracting by any means (especially when you compare it to what other people wear on tv). We’re just not used to seeing women in the sports media field – regardless of what she wore, there was something inherently combative in his comments.

    As for the punishment, I agree with the suspension. A slap on the wrist isn’t enough to deter others from making the same tasteless comments about female coworkers at ESPN – the damage is done so to speak. I’m sure there’ll be a few rounds of training for everyone at ESPN now to make sure they’re covering all their legal bases, too.

    February 24, 2010/Reply
  8. dcm58 says:

    I don’t think he should have been suspended. I listen to his radio show and he ALWAYS makes fun of what people wear (including himself). He only got in trouble because he picked on a woman. That’s sexist! Do we women need this extra protection? She needs to grow a thicker skin if she is going to be in media (of course, I don’t know if she raised a stink or not — that might be judgmental).

    I agree it was tasteless, but Tony has built his career on tasteless. Why suspend him now?

    And, although the skirt was fine, those boots were tasteless . . .

    February 24, 2010/Reply
  9. ~M says:

    I was expecting rolls of fat visible through the t shirt and a pleated mini skirt. The problem with the outfit is that it’s hideous, not that it is so "inappropriate." Although I don’t listen to the show, I agree, it sounds like it’s a boys’ club issue for which a suspension does nothing.

    February 25, 2010/Reply