‘Sweatergate’: Bare-shouldered female meteorologist handed cover-up cardigan on air, Twitter erupts

Liberté Chan. MUST CREDIT: The Washington Post; screen grab from Facebook

A Los Angeles television station has come under fire after a male anchor handed his female colleague a cardigan so she could cover her bare shoulders.

It happened during the 8 a.m. Saturday broadcast on KLTA, a local station serving the greater Los Angeles area. In it, meteorologist Liberté Chan, donning a black cocktail dress, is offering her report on the day’s weather when she runs into some unexpected on-air turbulence.

Suddenly, mid-broadcast, weekend anchor Chris Burrous’ suit-clad arm appears on the side of the screen. Dangling from it is a gray cardigan, which seems to imply a suggestion that Chan seems none too happy about.

“What’s going on?” she says, then walks over to him, seemingly confused. “You want me to put this on? Why? Cause it’s cold in here?”

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“We’re getting a lot of emails,” comes the male voice, as his hands place the cardigan on Chan.

“What?” Chan shouts. “Really?”

“There you go,” he says. “That’s nice.”

“OK. I look like … a librarian,” she says.

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The video quickly went viral on social media, and many are calling for an apology from the station. Chan, though, said there are no hard feelings.

According to a post on Chan’s Twitter feed, her original black-and-white dress “keyed out,” which means it clashed with the green screen. She wrote on her blog that the weather wall turned the dress partially transparent.

That’s how she ended up in a cocktail dress at 8 a.m., a sartorial choice about which she certainly seemed excited.

Some of her viewership apparently didn’t share her excitement.

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According to a post on Chan’s personal blog, the station received several emails complaining about her bare shoulders. Hence the cardigan. And while it may have taken her off-guard, she wrote, “For the record, I was not ordered by KTLA to put on the sweater. I was simply playing along with my co-anchor’s joke, and if you’ve ever watched the morning show, you know we poke fun at each other all the time. And, also for the record, there is no controversy at KTLA. My bosses did not order me to put on the cardigan, it was a spontaneous moment.”

While at least one user on Twitter took it as a joke —

“I find @KTLA’s response to #sweatergate refreshing. The sweater was a jab at complainers, and done in good humor.”

— many others responded as if there were great controversy, going so far as to name the event #SweaterGate and sending a barrage of outraged tweets to the station.

“Hope the jerk gets fired for humiliating her live,” one user tweeted. “Maybe a burqa next time? Your owner and manager owe her a public apology,” tweeted another. “Sexism. Public Shaming. Over what? Arms? What exactly is problematic here,” yet another tweeted.

Burrous’ response may have been a joke, but the emails the station received about her appearance seem like anything but.

“Looks like she didn’t make it home from her cocktail party last night,” reads one. “Overall I like Liberté, but this was a display of very poor judgment,” reads another.

Many of the comments though, even the supportive ones, continue to focus on her appearance.

“Liberté you are beautiful, no explanations needed!” reads one. “She look beautiful (sic),” reads another. “This woman is stunning looking … you own her a apology … on air,” reads another.