Erin Andrews + Oprah Winfrey = A Headscratcher

Sideline reporter discusses secret videotaping

By Josh Alper
|  Tuesday, Sep 1, 2009  |  Updated 5:16 PM EDT
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Erin Andrews + Oprah Winfrey = A Headscratcher

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It's become an American tradition that anyone involved in any kind of a scandal shows up on Oprah Winfrey's set at one time or another. Whether you're the victim of some heinous act or the disgraced public figure trying to atone for your sins, the invite to sit down with Oprah is a sign that you're somebody special and people really, truly care about you.

The thing about most of the people involved in these scandals is that they involve hugely famous people or revolve around incidents that aren't out of the headlines for more than a day or two. Which brings us to Erin Andrews, the ESPN sideline reporter who became a cause celebre for a brief moment early this summer when the peephole video of her changing in a hotel room shot around the internet. She sat down with the Queen this week for a show to be broadcast next week. The key words there are "became" and "brief," because most people who weren't watching sports round the clock didn't know who Andrews was before the story hit and the story went away as quickly as it popped up.

It was an awful, unprovoked violation of Andrews' privacy, one that hopefully will get punished. But it had also disappeared from the landscape, and the stage was as clear as it was ever going to be for Andrews to just get back to normal. ESPN certainly wasn't going to mention it and things would be back to status quo shortly after Thursday night's game brought her back to TV screens. 

And now it will all get churned up again, which is a strange choice to make when you tell Winfrey how it was a "nightmare" going through the incident, and, per Deadspin, felt like she "was continuing to be victimized." What's a more likely outcome of a trip to Winfrey-ville, that people just listen to the story before going back to their lives or that there's a resulting spike in searches for the video and other Andrewsphenalia?

The only reason to open that door is if you're looking to capitalize on the notoriety and expand your audience and career prospects as a result. Admittedly this is a cynical view, but Winfrey's core audience probably isn't one that spends a lot of time watching interviews with Big Ten coaches at halftime. They could become Andrews' audience if she were to cross over into some other kind of reporting or hosting, however, and it's not too much of a stretch to see that being a goal of hers.

It's hard to think of another reason for the interview. Her lawyers, the same people who confirmed that it was her on the tape, haven't been able to come up with any answer about who was behind the videotape, so that eliminates the desire to help others avoid the same fate. There's no cautionary tale, here, she's just like the Central Park Jogger or some other victim of a random, senseless crime without the inspirational return story. 

So you're left with the thought that Andrews' appearance is meant to do nothing other than promote herself as a victim which just doesn't jive with her account of what it was like to be a victim. Strange.  

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to FanHouse.com and ProFootballTalk.com in addition to his duties for NBCNewYork.com.

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