Since the dawn of the Internet, people have used it to bully and shame others. After all, it’s easy to be cruel without consequences from behind the safety of your computer screen. Perhaps no one knows this better than female news personalities. Over the years I’ve read several accounts of female news anchors, reporters and meteorologists receiving scathing emails, tweets, and Facebook comments about their appearance. It’s truly sickening what they have to endure.
Typically the way to handle internet trolls is to ignore them. “Don’t feed the trolls,” is the mantra for dealing with them. After all, a reaction is probably what they want, right? However once in awhile, the trolls themselves need to be shamed. Sometimes an especially vile attack does deserve a response. Sometimes hitting back is what’s needed to truly empower a troll’s victim.
Internet Troll Targets Local News Anchor
This was exactly the situation recently with Canadian news anchor Leslie Horton, 59. Horton was going about her day at work late last month when she got a cruel, but not unfortunately, unusual, email from a viewer. It read: “Congratulations on your pregnancy. If you’re going to wear old bus driver pants, you can expect emails like this.”
Sadly, Horton was familiar with the sender. This was not his first communication to her about her appearance.
“He’s reached out several times over the years, and his intent is always to humiliate and hurt me,” Horton, a broadcaster for Global News Calgary, tells TODAY.com.
This time, the comment was so intentionally hurtful that Horton just couldn’t blow it off. “We’re not supposed to respond to trolls — so I had no plans to address it,” she says, “but then the words just came out of my mouth. I had this visceral reaction.”
At the start of her broadcast, Horton chose to speak up for herself and speak out against her troll and all people who make these attacks. She told viewers that she would be addressing an email she had just received. Then, she let loose.
“No, I’m not pregnant. I actually lost my uterus to cancer last year, and this is what women my age look like,” Horton, she boldly stated while looking straight into the TV camera. “So, if it’s offensive to you, that is unfortunate. Think about the emails you send.”
— Global Calgary (@GlobalCalgary) December 5, 2023
She said she finally “drew the line” after this comment because she knows the sender is a regular viewer and it would be unlikely that he didn’t know about her recent cancer diagnosis and surgery.