The Wisconsin lawyer facing backlash after he sent a scathing email bullying WKBT anchor Jennifer Livingston about her weight is not backing down.
Kenneth Krause, an attorney who sent the e-mail questioning whether Livingston was a fit role model because of her weight, declined to appear on WKBT to respond to the La Crosse, Wis., anchor. But the lawyer did issue a statement standing by his widely condemned remarks.
"Given this country's present epidemic of obesity and the many truly horrible diseases related thereto, and considering Jennifer Livingston's fortuitous position in the community, I hope she will finally take advantage of a rare and golden opportunity to influence the health and psychological well-being of Coulee Region children by transforming herself for all of her viewers to see over the next year, and, to that end, I would be absolutely pleased to offer Jennifer any advice or support she would be willing to accept,” Krause wrote in a statement sent to The Huffington Post.
Krause’s email to Livingston went viral after her husband and WKBT colleague Mike Thompson posted it to his Facebook page. A YouTube clip of Livingston responding to the letter, which can be seen below, was viewed on the video sharing site by more than 2 million times. Livingston spoke about the email on air and received an outpouring of support.
“It’s unusual that I see your morning show, but I did so for a very short time today. I was surprised indeed to witness that your physical condition hasn’t improved for many years,” Krause wrote in the original message. “Surely you don’t consider yourself a suitable example for this community’s young people, girls in particular. Obesity is one of the worst choices a person can make and one of the most dangerous habits to maintain. I leave you this note hoping that you’ll reconsider your responsibility as a local public personality to present and promote a healthy lifestyle.”
Thompson was shocked by the email.
“Ok. I really don't know where to begin here. I've posted about negative emails the station has received in the past, but this one delivered specifically to my wife, morning anchor Jennifer Livingston, has just infuriated me,” Thompson wrote. “Seriously, the fact that there are people out there like this (and I understand this person is a lawyer in town) makes me sick to my stomach.”
The post was liked by roughly 1,900 people and commented on nearly 3,000 times as of Wednesday afternoon.
Livingston said she tried to laugh off the “hurtful attack on my appearance.”
“Attacks like this are not OK,” the WKBT anchorwoman said on-air, which you can view in the video below.
Livingston admitted that people can call her “fat” or “obese,” but said the man’s attack wasn’t helpful.
Addressing the man, she said, “you don’t know me. You are not a friend of mine, you’re not a part of my family and you have admitted that you don’t watch this show, so you know nothing about me but what you see on the outside, and I am much more than a number on a scale.”
Livingston used the opportunity to alert viewers that October is National Bullying Month and said bullying “is a problem that is growing every day in our schools and on the Internet.”
As the mother of three young girls, Livingston said bullying “scares me to death.”
The WKBT anchorwoman said she has thick skin “and that man’s words mean nothing to me.
“But what really angers me about this is there are young children who don’t know better,” Livingston continued. “The Internet has become a weapon. Our schools have become a battleground and this behavior is learned. It’s passed down from people like the man who wrote me that email.
“If you are at home and you are talking about the fat news lady, guess what? Your children are probably going to go to school and call someone fat. We need to teach are kids how to be kind, not critical, and we need to do that by example,” Livingston said.
The anchorwoman said she was “literally overwhelmed” by those who showed their support for her on Facebook.
Thompson also said he was taken aback by those who stood by Livingston in a Facebook post Monday.
“Wow. What can I say. When I posted the disheartening email that Jennifer received on Friday, I knew it would elicit some response, but I am in shock at the amount of love and support. As you can imagine, I was angry that someone would attack my beautiful wife for no reason. We get negative feedback all the time, but this one had crossed the line. We both put our heart and soul into our jobs to be a service to our great community, and for someone to write something so mean-spirited and frankly disgusting, was just unacceptable,” he wrote.
“Your words of support and encouragement have been very humbling. Unfortunately, I've had to explain to our 10-year-old daughter, who is right around the age of starting to worry about her body image, there are people out there in this world that actually think this way and that her mother was a target of this hate. My hope is that something good can actually come out of this negative.
“If anything, it's already started an important discussion about bullying and positive role models. To be clear, I do not wish any harassment towards the individual who wrote this email. I think the outpouring of positive feedback is enough to send a strong message that his email was wrong on so many levels,” he continued. “Thank you again to all the people who wrote in, you just proved what I already knew, News 8 viewers rock.”
Nearly 4,700 Facebook users liked the comment as of Wednesday afternoon and the post elicited more than 500 comments.