WASHINGTON, D.C. – WUSA reporter Andrea McCarren says she will go back in front of the cameras to deliver her own stories about underage drinking after stepping away when her children received insulting and threatening comments from their high school classmates.
Backlash to a WUSA series on underage drinking and drug use that began Feb. 1 received widespread media attention Wednesday. The Washington Post reported that threats were delivered to McCarren's children in person and on Facebook, leading WUSA news director Fred D’Ambrosi and McCarren to agree she should stay off the air for a week and let colleague Derek McGinty report her story, which he did twice.
“My kids were targeted,” McCarren told the Post. “That’s where I drew the line.”
Stories about the backlash over McCarren’s reports also appeared on The Huffington Post, Washington City Paper and media-industry websites.
But on Facebook Wednesday, McCarren posted:
“For the record, thanks to extraordinary support from my family, my colleagues and all of you, I will be fronting my own stories again later this week. As many pointed out, we don't want the 'terrorists' (or bullies) to win. I'm very proud of the stories you will see tonight, Thursday, Friday and in the months to come. Thank you.”
She confirmed to msnbc.com that she would be back on the air for the 11 p.m. ET Wednesday broadcast.
McCarren’s reporting included her confrontation with the owner of a local market where WUSA reported that underage alcohol sales were being made, a police bust of a Bethesda, Md., underage drinking party, and “pre-gaming," where youths get intoxicated or high before sporting events or concerts.
McCarren’s series was to continue Wednesday night with a report on teenage girls being raped at underage drinking parties, WUSA said.
“Ninety-nine percent of the feedback we've received because of Andrea's reporting has been positive,” WUSA said on its website as it reported on the backlash. “We've heard from schools, medical personnel, police, parents and even teenagers.”
The station cited a 17-year-old high school student “brave enough” not to drink despite peer pressure: "Please don't back down in face of threats. This is so rare that the media ... is trying to expose teen drinking and I applaud you for it. So on behalf of the 'team sober' kids, thanks."
Last week, WUSA said McCarren was “stunned and heartbroken to find herself subjected to online name calling too foul to mention on TV.”
Police took threats so seriously that officers were stationed in front of McCarren’s house, WUSA said.
It cited Facebook posts aimed at her such as this: "You can't try and take away something that teens love without retaliation. Haven't you ever heard of teenage rebellion? Teens love to drink and I'm sure they'll be laughing it up about your report while they party tonight."
Msnbc.com's Jim Gold contributed to this story.
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