A Reporter Kept Her Cool While Enduring "Disgusting" Comments From Two Men On Camera

·5 min read

A reporter brought attention to the harassment women in the media industry frequently face after she endured crude comments from two men right before going on the air.

Brianna Hamblin, a reporter for Spectrum News 1 in Rochester, New York, shared an incident on Twitter in which the men's language about her reached a "disgusting level" and just happened to be recorded by a camera operator.

Hamblin did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but on Twitter, the reporter said there were "A LOT of things wrong with this."

"Being hit on and harassed as a woman, especially as a woman reporter out in the field, happens so often you learn how to roll with it or ignore it," Hamblin said in a Twitter thread. "This time it happened to be recorded only seconds before my hit."

The video depicts Hamblin checking her phone as she prepares to appear on camera. Male voices in the background are audible, with one exclaiming profanity at the bright camera light blaring in the early morning.

"You look nice by the way," one man says, to which Hamblin replies "thank you" before gazing down at her cellphone. He then walks away.

A second man presses on though, saying, "You're beautiful as hell, goddamn." Hamblin again politely reiterates "thank you" before turning back to her screen.

But the second man continues to question her, asking why she was on camera. Hamblin directs the men to "go find a TV and watch Spectrum News" to find out, even giving the specific channel of the broadcast.

Then the conversation escalates.

"See that's why I can't be left alone with a Black woman," the man replies, adding he can't be controlled around "Mulatto" women, a racial phrase referring to people of mixed African and European descent. "Because I can't stand these fucking white girls."

"All right, we are done here," Hamblin interjects, pursing her lips with visible discomfort. "Have a great rest of your day."

The audio of the men's voices diminishes, signaling they are moving away.

"You are sexy as fuck," one man says, the audio of his voice trailing off.

"Oh my god," Hamblin says as the camera focuses in on her.

On Twitter, Hamblin said her experience amplifies what is an everyday occurrence for women in the media.

Regarding the first man's "you look nice" comment, Hamblin said it was "fine," but the second man "took this to another disgusting level."

"The audacity of the things men say to me never ceases to amaze me," Hamblin wrote. "What makes you think women want to be talked to that way? In no way is this endearing. It’s uncomfortable. It’s gross."

Hamblin added that the man's words comparing Black, mixed race, and white women to one another were repellent and racist.

"Being a Black woman in this industry has its own headaches, but talking down on one group of women to 'praise' another group is NEVER okay. It just shows you have a disgusting fetish based on stereotypes, which is just as racist," Hamblin wrote.

She also mentioned that she was at least is accompanied by photographer Scott Barstow and that the work of women who are reporting in the field alone is "not safe" and "scary."

“We are glad that Brianna wasn’t alone in the face of such adversity and we’ve never been more proud of her," Shari Culpepper, a spokesperson for Spectrum News' parent company, Charter Communications, told BuzzFeed News. "She handled the situation impeccably, remaining calm and professional throughout. We want our employees to feel safe and are constantly working towards achieving that goal.”

Hamblin's thread gained over 4,000 retweets and more than 19,000 likes by Friday afternoon. Twitter users replied with support and empathy.

"I am so sorry Brianna," responded Caurie Putnam, a freelance journalist. "It angers me that so little has changed in the 20 years since I got into the field. You handled the situation beautifully, but the situation should not be occurring at all."

"You and your partner @barstow_scott handled this creepstorm remarkably well," replied Ethan Harp, a CNN writer. "I'm so sorry you were subjected to that garbage. Glad you two are in this profession."

Others said the photographer should have done more by stepping in. Barstow did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but he reacted to Hamblin's thread, posting, "I can say is it hurts to see this. I’m sorry I stood there while you have to hear that. This isn’t the first time you have heard this. I would say more like the 50th. I know it’s easy for me to say but it’s only words."

"Those 'only words' were hurtful, as we saw when you zoomed in on her pained reaction," replied Nichole Perkins, writer and host of the podcast This Is Good for You. "You could’ve asked the men to step away but then they would’ve focused on you, right? Best to let her shoulder the burden on her own, right? Do better. Don’t wait for it [to] escalate beyond words."

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