It’s the trolls’ America — and Liberte Chan is living in it.
Chan, of course, is the Los Angeles TV weather presenter who was body shamed into putting on a sweater to cover up her bare shoulders during a live broadcast on Saturday.
“We’re getting a lot of emails,” a male voice off screen said as a disembodied hand reached into camera view to hand Chan the gray coverup.
“I look like a librarian now,” Chan said once fully covered.
“That works!” said the voice offscreen.
And … scene. And in just 10 seconds of TV, we can see everything that is wrong with America.
Wrong thing 1: “We’re getting a lot of emails.”
The off-screen anchor man, later identified as Chris Burrous decided to let the viewing public — no, check that, the minuscule number of people who wrote in, which is already a tiny percentage of viewers tuned in that moment, itself a small portion of the already tiny population that watches KTLA — overrule on-set producers. One or two viewers wrote that the dress was “inappropriate” for morning TV. Typically, that’s a sign that you’re doing something right, not wrong.
Wrong thing 2: Your co-worker is not your boss
Even if KTLA was getting 1,000 emails a minute and was threatening to crash Google’s secret servers, who is Chris Burrous to undermine his colleague? Imagine how you’d feel at the office if a co-worker mocked your work in front of everyone (my reaction is always the same: “Isn’t that a job for the boss, not you?”). Until your co-workers can fire you, their job is to say, “Great job today,” and move on.
Wrong thing 3: That off-screen hand
Whoever handed Chan the sweater is either a prude or a patriarch. He’s definitely a coward, not wanting to appear on screen as he hands down his ruling that the sexist mob is correct and Chan is inappropriately dressed. Worse, he gives the sweater a little shake, as if Chan is a cat who will only be attracted to something moving in a jittery fashion.
Wrong thing 4: KTLA hired Chan for a reason
The greatest hypocrisy, of course, is not that Burrous decided to side with the internet trolls in the self-styled Fashion Police, but that Chan was in that position in the first place. Look, we all know why television hires people: Because they look good on camera. It’s no sin: It’s a visual medium. And it’s not Chan’s fault that many people think she looks like the wildfires she often covers in her broadcasts. She’s worked for the network since 2003 after getting her journalism degree from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She did not receive a certificate in meteorology until 2015, which suggests that she was not hired for her ability to predict the weather in LA (which doesn’t ever change anyway). She’s probably qualified. But from KTLA’s perspective, she looks like she’s qualified, which, on TV, is even more important.
Wrong thing number 5: KTLA isn’t afraid to showcase its talent when it suits the suits
When KTLA wanted to do a “report” on a beach in the Bahamas called “Serenity,” it sent Chan down there in not one, but two bikinis. “Are you going to be my massage therapist?” she giddily asks in one part of the segment (which, not surprisingly, has been viewed tens of thousands of times on YouTube). A lot more people have watched that video than emailed Chris Burrous to tell Liberte Chan to cover up. There’s a reason why “Top 10 hottest weather girls” gets far more Google hits than “Old men in suits reading the weather” — and KTLA knows it. Now the network has to own it or disown it.
Wrong thing 6: Why does Chan feel like she needs designer clothes in the first place?
The dress, identified by Chan as made by designer Aidan Mattox is, of course, made for parties, not prime time. Liberte Chan can, and should, wear whatever she likes. But if you want to know why she felt it appropriate to get a designer to loan her a sparkly dress for her morning broadcast, see “Wrong thing 4” above. The dress was fine — Aidan Mattox also dresses Kathie Lee Gifford. Is anyone going to say she dresses inappropriately on “Today?” — but the motivation was flawed. And she made it worse by explaining, oh so professionally, on her blog, “What girl doesn’t like something that sparkles?!” She later added that it was never her intention to offend anyone.
Wrong thing 7: ” It was never our intention to offend anyone.”
Why is everyone in this country so offended by giving offense? A tiny bit of discomfort is the only way to shake people out of their complacency anyway. It’s working for Donald Trump, isn’t it? He seems to be the only guy in the country who is not afraid to offend anyone — and, in fact, seems to take great joy in offending everyone. And he’s one heartbeat — a very flat one beating inside the chest of Hillary “I’m Sorry if I Offended Anyone” Clinton — away from the presidency. If I was KTLA’s producer, I’d be offended that my newscasters worry about offending people. The only thing that matters is the truth.
Wrong thing 8: “I look like a librarian”
Why, in her moment of outrage, did Chan feel the need to attack the looks of librarians? She could have said, “What is this? Saudi Arabia? You want me to wear a burqa? I’m an American woman and will do what I want.” Instead, she went after librarians. By the way, “hottest librarians” is a Google thing, too, you know.