A Georgia reporter was forced to react to an apparent assault in real time over the weekend after a creepy jogger appeared to grope her on live television. On Tuesday, that jogger was identified as 43-year-old youth minister Tommy Callaway.
In a now-viral clip that was posted to Twitter on Saturday morning, WSAV-TV’s Alex Bozarjian is initially seen smiling at runners as she covers the annual Enmarket Savannah Bridge Run. While she speaks to the camera, joggers stream by her, some in costumes, others making goofy gestures. Finally, one man in sunglasses appears to slap her butt as he jogs by, prompting Bozarjian to visibly recoil as she struggles to maintain her composure and resume the broadcast.
In the moment, Bozarjian finished off her segment without further comment on the incident. But later that day, she took to Twitter to address the unacceptable and disproportionate sexual violence women in journalism are forced to endure on a daily basis. And the fact that this particular man could unabashedly grope her in public, on camera, truly speaks to this sentiment.
“To the man who smacked my butt on live TV this morning: You violated, objectified, and embarrassed me,” she wrote alongside footage of the assault. “No woman should EVER have to put up with this at work or anywhere!! Do better.”
Although Callaway made a public apology for his actions, being "caught up in the moment" in no way pardon's the 43-year-old man for groping a reporter.
And, the incident prompted outraged reactions from Twitter users and WSAV-TV alike, as well as a public apology from Savannah Sports Council director Robert Wells.
“Alex, what happened today is 100% unacceptable,” Wells said in response to Bozarjian’s tweet. “You have my assurance we will identify him.”
The assault is just the latest in a string of high-profile incidents that have highlighted the sexism that women journalists at both the local and national level are forced to slog through in order to do their jobs effectively. Earlier this year, a Kentucky man received a misdemeanor charge after he ran up to WAVE 3 News reporter Sara Rivest and kissed her during a live broadcast.
“OK, that was not appropriate,” Rivest said on air at the time. “But…let’s just go to the story.”
Sexual misconduct in journalism has also toppled powerful figureheads in national media in recent years: In 2016, Fox News CEO Roger Ailes resigned in disgrace after more than 20 women accused him of sexual harassment, and in 2017, Fox News host Bill O’Reilly, Washington Post reporter Glenn Thrush and disgraced NBC News anchor Matt Lauer all stepped down following similar accusations.