Commentary: Andrews is victim in voyeur scandal

ESPN sideline reporter Erin Andrews appeared on the season premiere of “The Oprah Winfrey Show” on Friday for what she said would be the first and last interview regarding the secretly taped nude footage of her that made headlines in July.

Andrews has covered a variety of sports for ESPN since May 2004. She has received more attention not for her reporting but for the short, grainy black-and-white nude footage posted on Internet.

Once it was posted, news of the nude video spread like wildfire. On her show, Oprah said it was searched more than 300 million times on the web before Andrews’s legal team demanded the video be removed.

In the interview, Andrews gave some information on the criminal case in progress, and she spoke about how the ordeal changed her life. Andrews called it a “nightmare,” discussed her fears of losing her career and criticized fellow journalists who turned her into the story.

Before watching the interview I had my doubts about Andrews and the “secretly taped” footage. Internet bloggers made a convincing case against her, claiming she had looked a little too good in the footage to believe she genuinely knew nothing about the cameras. Who really irons, dances and walks around a hotel room completely naked?

Not to mention the old adage there is no such thing as bad publicity.

Was Andrews looking to get more recognition outside the sports world? She undoubtedly received more national and widespread exposure from this five-minute hidden video than most journalists get in their whole career.

After watching Andrews talk with Oprah, I realized the bloggers, critics and I were wrong. This was not some desperate attempt of a struggling female reporter trying to gain acclaim. It was a pathetic attempt to sneak a peek at the attractive young reporter and to tarnish her image.

Throughout the interview, Andrews remained relatively composed but clearly was quaking from the aftershock of this scandal. She appeared to be developing nervous hives on her neck and tears as her father recalled his daughter’s heartbreak.

Andrews, 31, has worked hard to make a name and a place for her in a male-dominated field, and I suppose it’s easier for the bloggers, the critics and even me to reduce her hard work and accomplishments simply to her sex appeal. It is much easier to accept someone is more attractive, successful and accomplished if she has achieved her upper hand with misdeeds.

But what really convinced me to take off the gloves, step out of the ring and into her corner was her concern for the other victims of video voyeurism. Andrews and an ESPN legal team had to fight to have the videos removed from the Internet, and they still do to keep them off.

Andrews understands most victims of this crime don’t have a legal team or a multimillion dollar corporation like ESPN behind them so instead they are looking to her. And she feels responsible to answer their calls and to be their collective voice to say, “Look I’m going to show my face, I’m going to get back to work. Let’s do it.”

If I were to find myself in the same position, plastered on the Internet ironing naked on hidden camera video, I know I would want Andrews in my corner. The least I can do is be in hers now.

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