7. Erin Andrews, Sex Appeal and Sports Journalism
RCS: We have to ask you about the Erin Andrews situation. When you were on CNN's Reliable Sources, you said that a quote from you gave during a radio show, for which you've since received a good amount of criticism, was taken out of context and amplified. Most importantly, you said you were talking about yourself. So let's put the quote in context and ask a different question. "It's worked for me for 25 years. If you trade off your sex appeal, if you trade off your looks, eventually you're going to lose those. And I'd like to have a very, very long career."
For young women starting in the business now, is it possible that this is unrealistic? If, for example, Erin Andrews isn't willing to use her sex appeal, won't ESPN just find someone else who is?
Brennan: First of all, thank you for getting the quote right. I think you're the first person who did, and that's very nice of you to do that. I really appreciate that.
I also want to say, in case there is anyone out there who hasn't heard me say it, that what happened to Erin is terrible, and I support her completely. You wouldn't know it from some of the internet and TV coverage of my comments, but the first words out of my mouth on that radio show in North Carolina were that what happened to Erin was "gross" and "despicable." I'm not sure why news organizations and internet sites didn't report that.
Now, to your question. Since I'm not doing any hiring for any network, I have no idea why certain people might be hired, and for what reasons. But I do know this: Erin Andrews is smart and talented, and to me, that's why she should be on the air.
There is a very simple thing I fall back on, and it's advice I've probably given to thousands of women now, young women I've mentored, young men, too, for that matter, in speeches at colleges, in e-mails, things like that. The advice is to simply rely on your talent and your brains. I so believe in that. I would think that most parents would say that to their daughters or their sons, to focus on being smart and talented and good. If you happen to be good looking or not, who cares? Focus on being a person of substance. Whether you want to be a teacher, a doctor, a journalist, whatever -- be smart. Work hard. Those are some of the things that are just so ingrained in me.
I think Erin does a terrific job on air. As I said, she's smart, she's talented. That's what's important. I wish her the best because she's been through an awful experience.