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ESPN Suspends Reporter Over Rant Recorded By Towing Company

An image from a video in which ESPN reporter Britt McHenry berates a tow company employee. ESPN says McHenry has been suspended for one week.

A string of insults aimed at a woman who works at a towing company were recorded by a surveillance camera. Now they've come back to sting sports reporter Britt McHenry. After the video emerged of McHenry, 28, dishing out profane verbal abuse, ESPN announced she'll be punished.

"Britt McHenry has been suspended for one week effectively immediately," the media company said.

Video of the encounter, which reportedly took place earlier this month, spread quickly after it was published Thursday on LiveLeak. In it, McHenry, who is based in Washington, D.C., vents her anger about her towed car at the counter clerk, who points out the surveillance camera.

Here's the video — we'll warn you, it includes profanity. (We summarize it below.)

In the footage, McHenry says, among other things:

"I'm in the news sweetheart. I will ******* sue this place."
"That's why I have a degree and you don't."
"I wouldn't work at a scumbag place like this. Makes my skin crawl even being here."
"Do you feel good about your job? So, I could be a college dropout and do the same thing?"
"Maybe if I was missing some teeth they would hire me, huh?"

When the clerk suggests that McHenry's hair could use a touch-up, she dismisses the idea by saying, "Cause I'm on television and you're in a ******* trailer, honey."

She then says, "Lose some weight, baby girl."

Hours after the video was highlighted by Deadspin on Thursday, McHenry issued an apology:

"In an intense and stressful moment, I allowed my emotions to get the best of me and said some insulting and regrettable things. As frustrated as I was, I should always choose to be respectful and take the high road. I am so sorry for my actions and will learn from this mistake."

The tow company employee is identified by Busted Coverage as Gina Michelle. Citing her, the website reports that Advanced Towing impounded McHenry's car on a Sunday night because she left it in the parking lot of a Chinese restaurant for two hours after it had closed. McHenry says she ate at the restaurant.

It seems that after the incident, both McHenry and Michelle used social media to contact local news site ARLnow.com, which notes, "some who have dealt with Advanced Towing have backed the former Arlington worker [McHenry]."

Advanced Towing was in the news just days before McHenry's car was towed, after a man said one of the company's drivers had started to tow his car with his children still inside it, waiting for him in a CVS parking lot, NBC Washington reported.

McHenry is a graduate of Stetson University and the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. Before being hired by ESPN one year ago, she worked at WJLA-TV in the Washington, D.C., area.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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