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Erin Andrews, ESPN, Rob Lowe, and the Playboy Mansion

Monday, July 20, 2009 , Posted by Christopher Byrne at 11:04 AM, under , , , , , ,

Let me start out by saying that whoever shot the now infamous video of Erin Andrews is beyond contempt. I truly hope they find the person because this could not have been done without preparation (such as reversing the peephole if it was from the door) or drilling holes in a wall.

The person who did this may have done irreparable damage to her career and reputation.

But there are other aspects of the story that exploded on Friday that make me scratch my head. Let's start with the "shock" posted over on The Big Lead:

This is equal parts mind-blowing and sickening...We don’t even know where to begin, so we won’t. But the Erin Andrews fanaticism just veered from fawning and sad to downright disturbing.

Yet just two days before this post, the site posted a short piece entitled Erin Andrews’ in a Racy Black Dress at an ESPY Party in LA Last Night, including a picture of her in the dress. Combine this with other posts and pictures they have posted over time, along with uncensored comments, is this not like the pot calling the kettle black.

And Deadspin is just as guilty. Thankfully one commenter took them to task on one story thread:

Deadspin posts which contain shots/video of Erin taken for no other reason than to leer at her figure are ok (e.g. the "ass-cam" shot at CWS, obviously taken without her approval, like the peephole video), but it's crossing the line on this. One week ago, if you had asked the commentors on this site what their last single dying wish would be, most if not all would have said "See Erin Andrews naked". I absolutely agree that that actions of the individual who shot the video are criminal, however... wasn't the atmosphere that was fostered on this site (and many, many others) somewhat to blame? It's all fun-n-games until someone gets hurt, right guys?

There had to be an environment created for this to have happened, and these two web sites (as well as others) have to share in the culpability. They have used images of Erin Andrews, and others of scantily clad women, to draw traffic. Now they say "Oh my!" At least they had the class and dignity to not post the video.

And then there is the legal department at ESPN, who issued this take-down notice:

I am the General Counsel of ESPN, Inc. It has come to my attention that you have posted on your site pictures of a young, blonde woman at [redacted]. These pictures were obviously taken through a peephole or otherwise in a fashion constituting a trespass/assault on the rights of the woman involved. Your continued posting of these pictures are highly likely to render you an accessory after the fact to a criminal act. We hereby demand that you (i) immediately remove these pictures from your site and (ii) disclose to us the source of the pictures. We intend to hold you fully responsible for further display of material that so obviously violates the law.

Please confirm by return e-mail that you intend to comply with these demands. In the absence of such confirmation we will assume you are an active and willing participant in these acts.

David Pahl

I am not sure how ESPN's lawyers have any legal standing to issue such a notice (although it is well deserved), or what would have happened if the recipient refused to do it (thankfully he did it because it was the right thing to do).

But the quirk here is what happened with ESPN and the ESPYs last week. First, they sponsor an official party at the Playboy Mansion, and the NBA Beat writers were tweeting with wild enthusiasm about heading to this party. Of course, the were only excited about the opportunity to get together and read each others articles.

And then there were the ESPY awards themselves. The last presenter of the evening, giving out the Jimmy V Award For Perseverance:, was Rob Lowe. For those of you too young to remember the famous Rob Lowe video incident, this link will help you understand the irony.

Posted July 20. 2009

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