TV Anchor Stands Up to Bully with a Public On-Air Shaming

A Wisconsin news anchor fights back — on air.

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As a TV newscaster in Wisconsin, Jennifer Livingston is used to being in the public eye. And as part of the gig, she often gets messages from viewers – some praising and some less-than-praising – about the job she’s doing. But when one letter hit a bit too personally, she couldn’t let it fade away in the trash bin. Livingston took the opportunity to deliver a rare on-camera takedown against the bully.

Livingston, an anchor for WKBT, the CBS affiliate in La Crosse, Wisc., began the segment as any other: professionally, almost unassumingly, delivered as the nightly news would be.  She pulled up a letter from a viewer, with the innocuous subject line “Community responsibility.” But once she dove into the text of the letter, it became clear this wasn’t a kind-hearted letter. The writer, who explained he wasn’t a frequent viewer of Livingston’s show, expressed disdain that her “physical condition hasn’t improved for many years” and noted that she has a “responsibility as a local public personality to present and promote a healthy lifestyle.”

(WATCH: YouTube Bullying Confessions)

In her eloquent response, Livingston confidently noted that it wasn’t the viewer’s obesity critique that forced her to sound off. “Do you think I don’t know that?” she railed, confidently and unapologetically. Instead, she took the opportunity to deliver a humbling public service announcement, noting that October is National Anti-Bullying Month.

Before taking to the airwaves, she exchanged a few emails with the man, later identified as local lawyer Kenneth Krause. But Krause kept insulting her, she told Poynter. The comment that drove her to sound off was one that called her a bad role model: “Surely you don’t consider yourself a suitable example for this community’s young people, girls in particular.”

As the mother of three young girls, Livingston wondered about those in her community and how such comments affect them. “I have a very thick skin,” she explained on-air, “and that man’s words mean nothing to me… But this behavior is learned – it is passed down from people like the man who wrote me that email.”

(MORE: When Bullying Turns Deadly: Can It Be Stopped?)

The backlash against Krause’s letter actually began days earlier, when Livingston’s husband Mike Thompson, also a TV personality at WKBT, posted the lawyer’s note on his Facebook page. Over the weekend hundreds of people expressed shock and anger to the note. Many said they could relate to Livingston’s humiliation. Thompson said he never thought his post would strike a chord with so many people.

So, on Monday night, after putting her girls to sleep, Livingston decided to do more than shrugging off the insult. She decided to address Krause’s attack on her show. And the powerful message she gleaned from Facebook was prominently reflected in her segment: “Do not let your self-worth be defined by bullies. Learn from my experience — that the cruel words of one are nothing compared to the shouts of many.”

Indeed, Livingston’s very public takedown of the bully became her “community responsibility.” And with poise, she delivered.

SPECIAL REPORT: What You Need to Know About Bullying

32 comments
ModerateForLife
ModerateForLife

He may have a point.  She may be overweight.  I guess my questions are what business is it of his?  What did she ever do to him to deserve being called a poor role model?  Does he know what type of person she is inside where it really matters?  Does he realize the attitude that everyone has to be slender, beautiful and fit has led to kids killing themselves with eating disorders?  And perhaps most importantly what business is it of his anyway? 

I find it amazing that a total stranger would write a letter like that to someone.  Calling her a poor role model?  (No clue).  Calling obesity a choice (sometimes yes sometimes no).  I mean come on?  Does this guy walk up to women on the street with kids (after all theyre role models to their kids) and say "you're fat, your not a good role model, you need to change"?  I doubt it.

Private email?  Forget it.  Bullies hide behind "secrets".  I wouldn't doubt it if this was one of those kids who growing up made kids like me miserable.  Words do hurt and people need to realize that and take it into account.  I'm glad this guy has been OUTED AS A BULLY and nothing more.

ModerateForLife
ModerateForLife

He may have a point.  She may be overweight.  I guess my questions are what business is it of his?  What did she ever do to him to deserve being called a poor role model?  Does he know what type of person she is inside where it really matters?  Does he realize the attitude that everyone has to be slender, beautiful and fit has led to kids killing themselves with eating disorders?  And perhaps most importantly what business is it of his anyway? 

I find it amazing that a total stranger would write a letter like that to someone.  Calling her a poor role model?  (No clue).  Calling obesity a choice (sometimes yes sometimes no).  I mean come on?  Does this guy walk up to women on the street with kids (after all theyre role models to their kids) and say "you're fat, your not a good role model, you need to change"?  I doubt it.

ModerateForLife
ModerateForLife

He may have a point.  She may be overweight.  I guess my questions are what business is it of his?  What did she ever do to him to deserve being called a poor role model?  Does he know what type of person she is inside where it really matters?  Does he realize the attitude that everyone has to be slender, beautiful and fit has led to kids killing themselves with eating disorders?  And perhaps most importantly what business is it of his anyway? 

 

I find it amazing that a total stranger would write a letter like that to someone.  Calling her a poor role model?  (No clue).  Calling obesity a choice (sometimes yes sometimes no).  I mean come on?  Does this guy walk up to women on the street with kids (after all theyre role models to their kids) and say "you're fat, your not a good role model, you need to change"?  I doubt it.

Kyle Crewdson
Kyle Crewdson

Saying something you don't like isn't "bullying". It would be fair to say it's more "bullying" to go on a rant that can't be responded to on-air. One-sided argument ahoy.

The letter didn't sound much like "Fatty fat fat fat", so spinning it as insulting and aggressive bullying is just self-victimization for attention.

Charles Ranier
Charles Ranier

here's what the guy was really thinking: "I never tune in to your

station but I was channel surfing and OMG there's a fat woman on the

screen, how do they allow that, it offends my sensibilities to look at

any woman who's not a supermodel, so how do I tell her to conform to my

visual needs? That's right, I'll use the 'think of the children, you're a

role model simply by being on camera making a living even though most

kids would rather do homework than watch the local news' derailing argument. That ought to put her in her place!"

that is some passive aggressive bullying right there.

HeWhoThinks
HeWhoThinks

I'd rather be overweight and nice than a thin jackass.

On the other hand, that Buddha guy? What'd he ever do for anyone?

HeWhoThinks
HeWhoThinks

 Incidentally, Krause gave permission for his emails to be mentioned on air.

Against Greedy Doctors
Against Greedy Doctors

The emadil Mr. Krause sent was not a bullying email.  The newscaster is way into feeling sorry for herself or she wouldn't go crazy on the news discussing her pathetic weight problem.  She needs to deal with her personal issues on her own time, and during a news report.  If she wants to be a fat example for children, it's her business but don't bring into what is intended to be news time.  Either fix your overweight or underweight problem on your own time and stop stirring up fake "bullying" BS.  I neither feel sorry for this overpaid, overweight, poor role model and I don't want to hear about it or look at her rotund body.  Now I know where the expression 'face time' should have originated from - it's for newscasters who have a poor body image.  Just kidding !  But really the email from Mr. Krause was not bullying the overweight newscaster into losing weight.  It was a suggestion to consider a healthier lifestyle to keep her from dying young due to the complications of overweight.  It was a suggestion to just try harder because it's not cool to be fat and set that sort of example for little girls, or big girls, or little boys or big boys.  It was a suggestion made to remind her to look in the mirror and make wiser choices as sometimes you get in a rut and simply don't realize you're continuing to gain weight.  The issue here is whether this newscaster was bullied, and the ANSWER IS - THIS NEWSCASTER WAS NOT BULLIED by the email Mr. Krause wrote - so this newscaster is media hound trying to garner sympathy and when she loses weight, we'll see where the thyroid problem disappeared to.  FUNNY excuse and very old.

YuliaK
YuliaK

The letter seemed to be offering constructive criticism/advice and didn't seem bullying at all.. the fact that she got so emotional about it kind of hints to the fact that she doesn't have "thick skin" at all.  Why she decided to turn an obesity/health issue into a "bullying" issue is beyond me.  Although I do agree that her weight is none of anyone's business, and yes it is refreshing to see "larger" newsanchors on tv for a change.  I also agree with the post stating that if she were anorexic and someone sent her a letter like that it would not have been interpreted as bullying and overeating is also an eating disorder that affects millions of Americans. 

UJLA
UJLA

Eeeewww! Kenneth Krause has big biceps but skinny, hairy forearms!

JCQueipo
JCQueipo

A lawyer, really a LAWYER ??  Fine examples of honesty and decency !!

99% of the lawyers give the rest a bad name !!!

Against Greedy Doctors
Against Greedy Doctors

The point is that Jennifer and Mike took a personal email and bullied the sender on national television in a 4 minute diatribe.  This is much worse bullying of the lawyer who sent the nice email and I hope he sues them, Jennifer, Mike and the news for airing such a personal bit of BS on air to shame him.  He sent a private email that could have been helpful and they have now publicly shamed his good intentions.  This is not fair, beside what the email states to Jennifer is truth.  If she cannot take the truth, then get out of the public job.

TimBlough
TimBlough

Mr. Krause (to his credit) gave permission for her to make the email public and invite the community's input.

People who are overweight CAN be good role models. While most of us would love ourselves and our loved ones to be the ideal weight  (I'm actually underweight, sorry), it's not the be-all-end-all of a person's worth.

What I try to tell my kids: Being kind to others makes me prouder of them, than being the fattest/smartest/strongest/weakest or most beautiful student in their class.

mijaka
mijaka

Apparently she doesn't have as thick a skin as she stated. The letter was private until she decided to turn it into a 'bullying issue' and the writer is correct when he says she has a responsibility as a public figure to present a role model for other people - so for that matter do overweight coaches of professional sports teams. Rather than boo-hooing about it she could be proactive and lose a few pounds in an attempt to address America's number one health hazard.

pc1397
pc1397

Are you f'ing kidding me??? What a jackass you are. I'm stunned.

mijaka
mijaka

 Bravo. You make a very good argument. You classmates in Grade 6 must be very proud of you.

pc1397
pc1397

Again, you are a jackass. No argument necessary.

GenYer
GenYer

1. She shamed the bully and took resposibility for being over weight. So, she does have a thick skin. She did not cry about "Oh I cannot help being bigger boohoo".

2. She does not have a responsibilty to anyone when it comes to weight. All she has a responsibility for is her job, which has nothing to do with her weight. PARENTS are the ones who need to teach their children how to be healthy AND kind for that matter, as she stated.

3. She does not need to lose weight for anyone other than herself. America's "#1 health hazard" is being contested, seeing as scientists and doctors are starting to realize that being over weight may not be as bad as once thought. Google it.

mijaka
mijaka

 That's the same ostrich 'head in sand' style of argument made by the global warming deniers, anti seat-belt advocates and any number of others who sit on the fringe of blatant scientific evidence and cherry pick their reports to make their point. There is an explosion in the number of  incidents of type 2 diabetes and heart disease, not to mention hip and knee replacements, directly related to obesity. Google that!

CedarRapids
CedarRapids

"and the writer is correct when he says she has a responsibility as a public figure to present a role model for other people"

No she doesnt. She doesn't have the responsibility to do anything other than her job.

mijaka
mijaka

 We are going to differ on this one :) As a public figure she does have that added responsibility and that IS part of her job. If she was anorexic there would be an outcry - both are eating disorders but obesity affects 33% and anorexia 1% of the population respectively (and that's just the adults). The attitude towards obesity is similar to what it was towards smoking 40 years ago - we knew it was bad for society but the lobbyist kept it out of the spotlight by labeling it 'freedom of choice' and 'no documented evidence'. Obesity is already proving to be a bigger detriment to health than smoking ever was.

picaflor
picaflor

 please read more on this issue rather than spouting off the same tropes and fears that billions have been spent on to make you believe...you cannot tell someone's health based on what they look like. You simply cannot. There are fat vegans who eat healthy and are very active and there are thin people who live off of fast food. Yours is an aesthetic complaint, so please - cut the bs with the concern trolling.

Scott Yeager
Scott Yeager

The term "Bullying" seems a bit far fetched here. Not that I think it was appropriate for the negative letter to be sent to her just that it doesn't sound like him being a bully. Were there multiple letters? Did he continue to give his unsolicited opinion after the initial incident. 

picaflor
picaflor

Curious to know - do you think it is acceptable that he specifically mentioned "girls"? One can infer that this lawyer believes all women need to look a certain way for his viewing pleasure, and if that is the case, then he targeted her. I highly doubt he would send such a letter to a big guy...so yes, in effect, he picked on her specifically, ergo bully.

GenYer
GenYer

Wow Jahica just Pwn'd you, Scott Yeager. You must not have watched the full video.

jahica
jahica

He continued to insult her in emails they exchanged after she received the letter, so yes, he was being a bully.  I hope insults aren't the excent of his lawyering skills.

Rika2
Rika2

she is fat..

which will soon be the new 'normal' in the US..meanwhile...she resorts to the  so popular excuses..that's racist..that's bullying..

GenYer
GenYer

Wow Herbsandspices just pwn'd you, Rika2. I think it is so funny when people comment before researching what they are posting on. This is a classic case of foot in mouth for sure. She never said anyone was a racist, btw, are you high on bathsalts or something?

Rika2
Rika2

didn't say she was..

I said ..

she's fat..and like so many others...

when they don't like the message..

they play the race..

or those other popular cards/conditions..

bullying,sex addiction,gender confusion...

herbsandspices
herbsandspices

She has a thyroid condition which makes it difficult for her to lose weight, but she is very active and takes part in several 5K runs and events. So before you make ugly judgments about others, maybe you should take a good hard look at yourself in the mirror and change the ugliness in you.

Rika2
Rika2

calling BS on the very active..

lifting a fork is not PT..

as for her doing 5K..(that's about 3 miles)...

BS on that as well..

bet she wheezes just going up 2 flights of stairs quickly.....

m1983
m1983

Good for her.  I hope that bully was watching.  We need more women like her, instead of heading straight to they gym to look "perfect" she admits she knows she is over weight.  God bless her and also that bully, for he must be a very empty man who needs love in his life.