Anchor Called Too Fat For TV Is Now International Role Model
NBCNEWS.COM - Jennifer Livingston never imagined she'd be the subject of school
lesson plans. She never expected to see her words emblazoned on pins and
T-shirts. She never thought she'd receive heartfelt messages from
children in other countries seeking her advice about how to deal with
But that is her new reality. The Wisconsin news anchor
sparked a viral firestorm in October when she stood up for herself on
camera after a viewer criticized her weight and called her a bad example
for her community. Almost three months have passed since then, and
Livingston is still hearing from kids and adults who view her as a
much-needed hero in the anti-bullying crusade.
"I didn't think I
was doing anything that was extraordinary — I really, truly didn't,"
Livingston said when TODAY.com caught up with her at the close of 2012.
"I'm overweight, and it doesn't bother me necessarily that people point
"What got to me was the way the viewer said, ‘You're such a bad role
model, you're such a bad person, you should go hide under a rock.' It's
head-scratching that anyone would make that connection."
back on the whole experience, Livingston, 37, said she's happy it
resulted in real discussions about the boundaries of bullying in
classrooms and homes all over the world. She also shared a nagging
worry: Did her actions inadvertently result in the bullying of the man
who characterized her as too fat to appear on television?
really had some guilt that people are now bullying this guy who I said
was a bully," Livingston said. "The backlash he got over this – people
waiting outside his home for days trying to track him down, magazines
and shows using his name and showing his picture from Facebook...He
really, aggressively had anger thrown at him, and I never meant for that
Critic's name revealed Social media helped catapult
Livingston's story from a local level to an international one in a
matter of days. It all began when she received this email message from a
It's unusual that I see your
morning show, but I did so for a very short time today. I was surprised
indeed to witness that your physical condition hasn't improved for many
years. Surely you don't consider yourself a suitable example for this
community's young people, girls in particular. Obesity is one of the
worst choices a person can make and one of the most dangerous habits to
maintain. I leave you this note hoping that you'll reconsider your
responsibility as a local public personality to present and promote a
Livingston shared the message with her
co-workers at WKBT-TV in La Crosse, Wis. — including her husband, fellow
WKBT anchor Mike Thompson, who posted the email on the station's Facebook page. Thompson did not include the viewer's name.
radio stations began calling Livingston, and as soon as she spoke out
on camera about the issue, national television shows including TODAY
As the story mushroomed, Livingston's station contacted the viewer
and invited him to talk about it on air. He declined to do so, but
issued a statement offering to help Livingston transform herself "for
all of her viewers to see." His one request: Please use his entire
statement or use none of it. His statement included his name, Kenneth
"If I had to do it over again, I would have pushed to not use his name," Livingston said.
has not seen Krause, a personal injury lawyer, in person since the
barrage of media coverage in October — although she expects she'll bump
into him at some point in La Crosse, a city of about 50,000.
think that in his mind, he was trying to make a positive change ... and
take a stand against the obesity problem that we have in this nation,"
Livingston said. "I just think his approach was inappropriate."
around when Livingston's very public stand was garnering international
attention, a news station in Shreveport, La., fired an on-air
personality who stood up for herself in a Facebook comment. KTBS 3 News terminated black meteorologist Rhonda Lee after she responded to a viewer's racially charged comments about her hair.
"I know I absolutely would have responded (to that viewer), and my
station would have encouraged a civil discussion of something negative,"
Livingston said. "To make a policy that you're only going to address
positive comments seems really, really backward, especially in a day and
age when we're trying to engage viewers more, not less."
‘A really special thing'
Livingston is a mom of three girls, including a 1-year-old baby. Her
oldest daughter, who just turned 11, was in a classroom that discussed
the issue of bullying in light of Livingston's experience.
"It's a really, really special thing to know that I have made that kind of impact on the kids of today," Livingston said.
She's also been astonished by the number of adults who have reached out to her.
editorial sparked memories of them being bullied when they were younger
— painful memories that they still carry around today," she said. "The
loudest voice people seem to hear is the bully, the cruelest person in
their lives. It can be a very scary thing to stand up to that person,
but sometimes when you do, it can be amazing."
said she didn't want to take sides on the specifics of Lee's situation,
but she acknowledged being baffled by the Shreveport station's policy
about interacting with viewers.
Sunday, May 19 2013 7:54 PM EDT2013-05-19 23:54:08 GMT
KHQ.COM - The 2013 Spokane Lilac Festival Armed Forces Torchlight Parade is in the books. >>
KHQ.COM - The 2013 Spokane Lilac Festival Armed Forces Torchlight Parade is in the books. With tens of thousands of people in downtown Spokane watching the parade, the floats, the marching bands, we know you took plenty of pictures! Well, we want to see them!>>
Sunday, May 19 2013 10:30 AM EDT2013-05-19 14:30:26 GMT
KHQ.COM - The results of the 2013 Spokane Lilac Festival Armed Forces Torchlight Parade are coming in. We'll post them as we get them.>>
KHQ.COM - The results of the 2013 Spokane Lilac Festival Armed Forces Torchlight Parade are coming in. We'll post them as we get them. In the meantime, if you have any photos from Saturday night's parade and want to submit them for a slideshow, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org>>