I was surprised at the Musers’ reaction to the suspension of Tony Kornheiser for his remarks about Hannah Storm’s outfit. They thought his suspension was some kind of politically correct overreaction.
Let’s put aside (1) Kornheiser’s apparent internal and external reputation as a thin-skinned pud and (2) ESPN’s past problems with sexual harassment, both of which probably contributed to them coming down hard on a star. Kornheiser, for all his celebrity, is an employee. There is scarcely a responsible employer anywhere in the US that would have shown any tolerance for that kind of talk in private, and that it was broadcast to the world made it infinitely worse. “Sexual harassment” consists not only of inappropriate behavior by one person towards another, but the fostering of a “sexually hostile workplace.” ESPN could not possibly have let Kornheiser’s boorish remarks pass without some meaningful smackdown.
Kornheiser’s ungracious remarks about her attire were bad enough. Comparing her to a Holden Caulfield fantasy – was he referring to Caulfield’s hiring a prostitute? to his fantasy about catching small children coming through the rye? – bordered on slander. And lest we all think that Ms. Storm’s outfit deserved what it got, my informal poll of women who had seen the offending oufit shrugged and suggested that it was not altogether out of style. Female employees upset at their treatment by ESPN would point to tolerance of thickwits like Kornheiser as Exhibit 1.
Kornheiser is lucky to have a job to return to when his supension is over. (And given his unappealing broadcast persona, lucky to have a job at all.) If this weren’t show biz, he’d be gonzo.