Jennifer Livingston has gone from reporting the news to becoming the news.
The WKBT News 8 anchor received a letter from disgruntled viewer Kenneth W. Krause, which Livingston read aloud on TV October 2. "It's unusual that I see your morning show, but I did so for a very short time today," Livingston quoted Krause as saying. "I was surprised indeed to witness that your physical condition hasn't improved for many years. Surely you don't consider yourself a suitable example for this community's young people, girls in particular."
Krause continued, "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."
Wisconsin-based Livingston then addressed Krause directly, telling viewers, "The truth is, I am overweight. You could call me fat, even obese, on a doctor's chart. But, to the person who wrote me that letter, do you think I don't know that? That your cruel words are pointing out something I don't see?"
"You don't know me. You are not a friend of mine," Livingston continued. "You are 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, a married mother-of-three, received words of encouragement from other viewers on WKBT's Facebook page. She also received support from Ellen DeGeneres, 54, via Twitter. "What a powerful message against bullying," the comedienne told Livingston. "I would love to meet you in person."
During her on-air response, Livingston also reminded viewers that October is National Anti-Bullying Month. "That man's words mean nothing to me. But what really angers me about this is there are children who don't know better, who get e-mails as critical as the one I received -- or in many cases, even worse -- each and every day," she said. "Learn from my experience that the cruel words of one are nothing compared to the shouts of many."