Compared to world affairs, a Knoxville, Tennessee weekend weather reporter losing her job hardly seems to matter. However, the recent firing of Tabitha Bartoe by WATE highlights not only the ongoing struggle of women attacked by a progressive society that has, for whatever reason, utterly latched onto transgenderism as a hill to die upon but also the notion that competence is secondary to pre-assigned concepts regarding what is acceptable, personal appearance when it comes to being in the public eye.
Bartoe, a recent graduate from Valparaiso University in Indiana, was on thin ice from the moment she signed on to her first post-college job at station WATE in Knoxville. According to Bartoe‘s comments, criticisms of her appearance came fast, furious, and were facetious at best.
Just three days into the job, the station’s general manager and news director — both women — began to harp on Bartoe’s hairdo and clothing, Bartoe told The Post.
“Have you looked in the mirror lately?” the newsroom’s general manager allegedly said to Bartoe, whose hair is straighter in some parts and curlier in others. “There’s one right over there.”
Translation: One of the guys in the newsroom, whom the general manager and news director have secret crushes on, must’ve commented that he found Bartoe to be cute. Or, the thematic elements behind “The Devil Wears Prada” have now moved on to local television news stations.
At the first appointment, “we went to a hair salon and both the hairdresser and news director jumped right in to talk about everything they disliked about my hair, specifically how my curls looked,” Bartoe said.
The boss asked the stylist to give Bartoe a “softened” look, and suggested ways for her “curls to fall out over time,” she added.
The stunned Bartoe said she did not want to change her hair, but “the news director said we would not leave unless I let the stylist do something,” she said.
Like ruin her natural and perfectly acceptable look?
Bartoe’s humiliation continued after the salon visit. She was marched to a nearby clothing store to shop for a new wardrobe because the news director didn’t like the emerald green Calvin Klein jumpsuit Bartoe was wearing, the anchor said.
The news director “picked out items that she liked, not necessarily considering my body type, and when she asked what size I wore, I got a look up and down from her and she continued grabbing dresses,” Bartoe said.
While one can understand and appreciate how a station manager and news director have the right to select what type of image their on-air personnel present, in a situation like this, one wonders if the two of them saw Bartoe before they hired her. Surely they interviewed her. And just as surely, they knew what they were getting. It’s a little tricky to understand why they would harp on somebody who not only is fresh out of school but who, from the get-go, obviously didn’t meet the apparently required standards of being six foot tall while weighing 100 pounds that the station management desired. As a group photo in an article on the matter reveals, Bartoe fit in very well with the other female WATE on-air personnel. So why do they single her out for criticism?
Bartoe said the news director told her that viewers were sending in comments and emails about her looks. But “when I asked to see those so I personally knew what was going on, they didn’t show me,” Bartoe said.
She was soon sent on a second hair appointment — this time to a curly hair specialist.
“I was pulled out of my shows to do the weather and instead sat at a salon for nearly three hours,” Bartoe said. “The news director left and came back after the appointment was over. She had no words, just ‘Can you smile?’ So she could take a photo and send it to the general manager.”
Okay, whichever male employee at the station the general manager and news director have crushes on must have said they thought Bartoe was really cute.
This demo reel reveals that Bartoe is more than competent in her chosen profession.
Nevertheless, WATE fired her on May 9.
The incident reveals a stunning lack of situational awareness by station personnel, who apparently believe that Knoxville, Tennessee is a significant market and a certain stepping stone to national success. Also, it demonstrates an alarming inability to handle an on-air person they hired, knowing full well what and who they were getting, yet thinking they would transform into their image of what she should look like when it should’ve been obvious the moment she walked in the room Bartoe is who she is. For what it’s worth, I think Bartoe is pretty cute.
In a world where we constantly see women pushed aside in favor of “women“ whose sole claim to identification as one is because they say so, the notion that actual women would be so shallow and dismissive of a fellow woman is hard to understand. Bartoe will hopefully get another chance at another television station less hung up on thinking it’s competing with the Good Morning Americas as of this world, instead recognizing that its viewership values relatable, realistic human beings. I don’t believe that’s too much to ask.