The 8 a.m. Saturday broadcast on KLTA in Los Angeles area featured Liberté Chan in a black, shimmery, shoulder-baring cocktail dress, giving her report on the day’s weather. Suddenly, weekend anchor Chris Burrous’s arm appeared on the side of the screen, holding a gray cardigan sweater.
“What’s going on?” she said. “You want me to put this on? Why? Cause it’s cold in here?”
“We’re getting a lot of emails,” came the offstage voice of her male colleague. Then his hands placed the cardigan on Chan.
“There you go,” he said. “That’s nice.”
“OK. I look like … a librarian,” she says.
Whereupon social media “erupted,” as the current cliche goes, with many on Facebook, Twitter and whatever else there is out there in the social media jungle condemning the station for sexism. Others insisted that Chan’s cocktail dress was inappropriate attire, sending a message that “The Weather Girl is just eye candy, like the women in bikinis at boxing matches.”
Chan, in a post on her own blog, had this to offer…
I …didn’t think there was anything that inappropriate (the beads/sequins were probably a little much for the morning, but what girl doesn’t like something that sparkles?!), so I played along and put on the sweater.
That prompted a barrage of tweets and more emails from viewers, some of which I included below.
To be perfectly honest, the black beaded dress was a backup. The pattern on my original black and white dress didn’t work on the weather wall (for some reason, it turned semi-transparent), so after my first weather hit at 6am, I changed.
For the record, I was not ordered by KTLA to put on the sweater. I was simply playing along with my co-anchor’s joke, and if you’ve ever watched the morning show, you know we poke fun at each other all the time.
And, also for the record, there is no controversy at KTLA. My bosses did not order me to put on the cardigan, it was a spontaneous moment.. I truly love my job, I like my bosses and enjoy working with my coworkers. Since talking to my team, I want our viewers to know it was never our intention to offend anyone. We are friends on and off the air and if you watch our newscast, you know that. More importantly, I hope my viewers were able to plan their Saturday once they heard my forecast and enjoyed the sunny weather after the clouds cleared.
1. I was just watching MLB’s Heidi Watney on “Quick Pitch,” where she reviews the highlights of all the baseball games of the previous day, standing up in the middle of a studio. She was wearing a shoulders-baring cocktail dress much flashier than Chan’s, my wife, not for the first time with Heidi, went nuts, complaining how the outfit was unprofessional and demeaning to women. She has similar reactions to the outfits of the Fox Blondes, and my favorite of the breed, Robin Meade, who frequently looks like she just returned from a wild night after a Vegas party. Is this kind of attire unprofessional? Well, it depends, doesn’t it? It depends if the job being done is seen as informational or performance. If it’s performance, then a costume is appropriate. If it is a professional conveyance of information to an audience only, a sound argument can be made that professional attire enhances trustworthiness.
Here’s a typical Heidi outfit: Continue reading →