Michelle Beadle freely admits that she's not a fan of Erin Andrews. "Everyone who knows me knows that," she tells me. It hasn't affected any of the hierarchy at ESPN at this point, but Beadle's admission in the new ESPN oral history that she watched Erin's peephole vid could put the WWL in the precarious position of having to side with one of their premier talents over another.
There are seven pages in the book devoted to Erin Andrews's summer of 2009, with quotes from Andrews; her father, Steve; Rachel Nichols; Steve Berthiaume; Cindy Brunson; Chris Fowler; Rece Davis; and, of course, Beadle. Here's what Beadle says about Andrews in the book.
I felt bad for her. She looked fabulous but it was such a violation. I mean, I've had moments in my apartment in New York when the blinds were up for one brief second and you think, "Ugh!" but that's nothing compared to what happened to her. Nothing.
I think things might have been handled differently, but she seems to be moving on. Sometimes these things turn out better for people.
Which for Andrews, career-wise, they did. If the implication was subtle in the above quote, Beadle was more straightforward in a phone conversation about Andrews's leap from college football's sideline to Oprah's couch to the stage of Dancing with the Stars (during which time ESPN all but put Erin Andrews in bubble-wrap). "Funny how that all worked out," Beadle says.
I asked her about the potential backlash from Bristol regarding her quote — how extraordinarily sensitive the whole ordeal was and how even acknowledging that she watched the video is something ESPN won't much appreciate. "Fine," she said. "But who didn't watch that video?"
One of the book's authors, James Miller, gives Beadle a lot of credit for keeping her admission on the record: "Lots of other folks would say to me, 'Off the record — I watched it.' So I give her credit for being honest."
Make no mistake: In Bristol there are clear sides being taken by coworkers and management — Team Beadle and Team Andrews. In fact, Andrews supporters have quietly groused about Beadle's relationship with ESPN's NHL analyst Matthew Barnaby, implying that Beadle is treated differently and that Erin would never get away with something like that. The biggest slap in the face, to some Erin supporters, was that ESPN trotted out Beadle yesterday morning, along with Scott Van Pelt, for the network's up-fronts — this despite her relationship with Barnaby, who's now facing assault charges after an incident at the home of his soon-to-be-ex-wife Christine. But ESPN's upper management has chosen its new fair-haired girl, it seems. For now, it's Beadle.
Beadle also maintains that her relationship with Barnaby was done "by the book," in accordance with ESPN's corporate policy about disclosing interoffice romances. Rumors have surfaced, however, that the Barnaby-Beadle relationship started getting serious at a time when Barnaby was still married. Beadle denies those rumors and maintains there was nothing illicit about their relationship. Barnaby is scheduled to appear in court tomorrow. ESPN is still waiting for Barnaby's hearing before they make decisions on his immediate future with the company. "If they fire him or suspend him, I'd be pissed for a little while, sure, since I know how everything went down [with him]," she said. "But they [ESPN] have to do what they have to do and I'll get over it. That's just how I am."