Peggy Drexler at CNN captures much of what I am thinking about the Britt McHenry flap:
Certainly McHenry should have known better than to have used such words, even if that’s what she was thinking, least of all because in our YouTube age, such missteps always come to light. But while McHenry’s reaction could very well have been a result of an overblown sense of entitlement, evidence of a mean girl who never left high school, what’s also troubling is how quickly and gleefully the rest of us issued blame on McHenry without fully knowing — or, it seems, caring about — the other side of the story.
The video that was released — by the tow company — was heavily edited and included only McHenry’s responses, not the comments of the employee who may have provoked her and contributed to an argument that clearly escalates as the video goes on. McHenry knew she was being taped; at one point, she looks directly at the camera. The employee even threatens to make the video public.
Did McHenry keep going because she has that much of a self-destructive streak? Or because she truly could not help herself? Or was she confident that any video evidence would show that there were two people playing this particular game?
These days, there’s nothing we love more than an example of a celebrity fall from grace, whether it’s Lindsay Lohan or Brian Williams or Britt McHenry, who was judged not on the facts but on what we take particular joy in believing: that the over-privileged and semi-famous do not necessarily deserve a fair trial.
. . . .
The problem with social media, and our dependence on it, is that it allows people to present and receive whatever angle they want, biased or not, fair or not. It’s the “power of the press” without the objectivity or accountability demanded of the actual press. And it has enabled a dangerous vigilantism that makes those who use that power no different from the ones they are supposedly rallying against. Think about it.
Who was worse: McHenry or the people who made that video public, and who did so without owning up to their part in the conversation?
I don’t know that we have to decide who was worse. But I want some more outrage directed towards this towing company.