Protection or profit? Where does the loyalty of Bravo Production lie?

Written by Colleen Mearon, October 14th, 2021

As the legal battles of reality star Erika Jayne and her estranged soon-to-be ex-husband Tom Girardi have been displayed on televisions across the country, Bravo has been subpoenaed for unaired footage of the star from season 11 of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.

The hope is that this unaired footage could assist lawyers taking action against Girardi and Jayne. Fox News reported that Girardi has been brought to court in a $2 million embezzlement case regarding settlement funds that were meant for plane crash victims. Jayne filed for divorce one month prior to accusations surfacing, therefore raising further allegations that the couple split to protect their finances and assets.

This became a huge topic of conversation on Bravo’s most recent, drama-filled season of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, Jayne discussing the lawsuits and being questioned by her “friends” on the show.

Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, Season 11 Cast

Despite the case being a topic of conversation on the show, is it fair for the court to have access to unaired footage? Would that breach a contract between the reality star and Bravo? For now, the Bravo production team and producer Andy Cohen have been protecting Jayne and have not yet agreed to release unaired footage.

But are they truthfully protecting Jayne or are they using this as a means of profit for the show? Many people watched this season of the RHOBH solely to learn about the case and get Erika’s side of the story, raising views of the show to record highs. Attorney Jay Edelson told Fox News that “so far, Bravo has chosen to use the Girardi embezzlement scandal to increase ratings and make significant money for itself.” 

Erika Jayne and Bravo Producer Andy Cohen

Bravo could have avoided involvement in this ongoing issue by not hiring back Jayne for season 11. Instead, she was paid $600,000 to participate in the show this year, where she was able to frame herself as an additional victim of Tom Girardi, steering the attention away from his true wrongdoings of embezzling money meant for victims of a horrible plane crash.

Bravo’s Real Housewives series ends with a reunion for cast-mates following the production season with producer Andy Cohen as a host monitoring discussion of the cast. The trailer for the season 11 reunion emphasizes the tense atmosphere of this reunion, where the focus heavily lies on Erika Jayne.

“Although the reunion trailer suggests that Andy is finally going to ask the tough questions of Erika, he is strategically doing so to increase his ratings and make Bravo even more money,” Edelson claimed to Us Magazine. “We believe that Bravo has a legal and moral duty to cooperate in our litigation so the true facts come out and the families of the Lion Air crash victims can get some justice.”

With Jayne in the spotlight, Bravo is gaining viewers and increasing the show’s ratings- profiting off of her legal struggles as they are put on-air. The focus has strayed too far from the center of this issue: money is owed to victims. As a media company, Bravo has a responsibility to the public and they are failing to remain ethical in their decision making.

The Burning Question

By Meghan Schweizer, October 13, 2021

McDonald’s Logo. Image Credit:

February 27, 1992, began as an ordinary day for a 79-year-old elderly widow, Stella Liebeck and her grandson, Christopher Tiano. The two took a ride to McDonald’s in her grandson’s Ford Probe to grab a bite to eat. They chose the drive through to place their order. The vehicle did not have cup holders. Liebeck wanted to add cream and sugar to her coffee. Her grandson decided to pull into a parking spot after receiving their food. So, how did this elderly woman receive severe burns over 16 percent of her body?

Liebeck had attempted to add cream and sugar to her coffee but unfortunately coffee spilled on her lap causing second-and-third degree burns, requiring hospitalization, further treatments, and skin grafts. When she presented McDonald’s with the bills for medial costs $10,000 over what her Medicare Insurance would cover, they responded with an offer of $800. After attempts to settle out of court failed, Liebeck sued McDonald is for $125,000 as reported in the 2013 documentary, Scalded by the Media.

If a liquid at that temperature contacts the skin for more than a few seconds, it will cause profoundly serious burns.”
David Arredondo, MD.
(Simmons 1)

McCafe Coffee Image Credit:

Was the “burning” question that the temperature in which McDonald’s brews and sells is far warmer than coffee made by most home coffee-brewing machines or how Stella Liebeck was treated? During the trial, Liebeck’s surgeon, David Arredondo MD, told the jury, if a liquid at that temperature contacts the skin for more than a few seconds, it will cause profoundly serious burns. Dr. Arredondo provided the court and jury a graphic example and photos of Liebeck’s burned groin and skin grafts.

During the trial it was revealed that McDonald’s had received more than seven hundred complaints about burns from beverages over a ten-year period.

“Jury Sends Message” Article
Image Credit:

Juror, Marjorie Getman stood behind her decision as she stated, “The only way you can get the attention of a big company (is) to make punitive damages against them.”
(Simmons 1)

While it is the press’s obligation to print the truth, it is also part of a journalist’s code of ethics to seek the truth. Editors who desire credibility have a duty to tell the truth under all conditions. So why did the coverage on the case of Stella Liebeck vs. McDonald’s go array? Was McDonald’s accountable for the injuries? Was the media not searching for the truth?  Both. A jury believed McDonald’s was liable. They awarded Liebeck $200,000 in compensatory damages and $2.7 million punitive damages, later reduced to $500.000. The public’s perception was that Liebeck won a lottery, yet the story had more complexities, more truths. The award by the jury was to send a clear message to McDonald’s they needed to reduce the temperature of the coffee to ensure others did not experience the injuries sustained by Liebeck.

The size of the award got the media’s attention, but this attention overshadowed the rest of the story. Many of the details of the case and how the jury made its decision were omitted and went unreported. An Albuquerque newspaper was the first to run the story. As it got picked up by the Associated Press, dozens of newspapers worldwide, along with local and national news stations began reporting it. As the story’s reach got larger, the story itself got smaller. In print that is…the number of words used to describe the story went from six hundred words to three hundred to just under fifty words. This limited the details of the case, creating a condensed version of the story from its original content. Titles and articles were missing critical pieces of the story allowing for misconstrued accounts of what happened and accusations of greed.

Rapid transmission made it difficult for time-consuming verification. Bullied by the media, with an incorrect account of Liebeck’s story told by politicians to professors, or Famous Network News Correspondents to Late Night Talk Show Hosts. In the eyes of the public, Stella Liebeck was the villain of the story. In this viewer’s eyes, Stella is a hero. She successfully won a suit over the largest fast-food restaurant business on the globe enforcing them to change the temperature of their coffee. Shame on McDonald’s for continuing unethical and unsafe practices by not taking an action as there were already over seven hundred complaints received related to burns.

Do I think if this story would be different today if given the opportunity for it to run via the digital media world? Yes. There would be viral sensationalism, but as credit worthy practitioners did more research, they would gain access to images. During this period people did not have access to the images of Liebeck’s burns nor would they be shared via with television. The use of imagery today would be powerful and influence the viewers, especially through social media platforms. This reviewer believes public relation practitioners got caught up in the challenges of the case allowing them to stage the truth.

Those who believe this case, and many other lawsuits, are frivolous, obviously do not have knowledge about the case. The verdict and settlement of this case forced the McDonald’s Corporation to change the temperature of the coffee they serve. This will ensure the safety for their patrons, so they do not sustain the horrific injuries Stella Liebeck received. The truth is common for those who seek to practice ethical communication.

Behind the Screens: Social Media’s Negative Effect

Just like technology, social media platforms have faced rapid expansion. It is amazing to be able to be in constant connection with so many people at such a fast pace. As a current communication and media graduate student, I have learned the importance of keeping up with the latest trends and understanding the needs of targeted audiences. Currently, one of the best ways to communicate with our society today is through social media. We know the pros of social media and all of the stories of success, but do we know the harms? Is social media as ethical as users believe it is? Social media seems to not be fading away anytime soon but it is never too late to educate ourselves and be aware of what is going on behind the screen. 

Generation Z has grown up with technology at their disposal. According to Western Governors University, Gen Z knows what technology is from the moment they are self aware. Growing up with instant access to answers and strong presence on social media has its downfalls. Microsoft researcher Danah Boyd states, “just because it is accessible does not mean using it is ethical.” According to Boyd, social media has created new social dynamics, especially for Gen Z. Rumors, “stalking” and drama is increased with visible gossip spreading on social media networks.

Frances Haugen delivering her testimony to Senate

In the recent news, Facebook Whistleblower, Frances Haugen, expresses how harmful Facebook has become to young individuals. Olivia Solon and Teaganne Finn of NBC News received a statement from Senator Roger Wicker, “The recent revelations about Facebook’s mental health effects on children and its plan to target younger audiences are indeed disturbing.” Children and mental health cannot be ignored.

Michelle, from Arizona, noticed her daughters spending more time than usual scrolling on Instagram during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. Their social media presence started with a “health challenge” and slowly spiraled to her eldest daughter developing “severe anorexia”. The mother of two teens stresses that social media had a large influence on the girls’ decision. In support of proving the negative effects of social media, Kari Paul, author from the Guardian, spoke with Michelle on behalf of her daughters to share their family’s traumatic experience. “Of course Instagram does not cause eating disorders…But it helps to trigger them and keeps teens trapped in this completely toxic culture,” Michelle told the Guardian. Social media platforms have been proven to send young girls into a spiral. Where does this all come from? Facebook of course disagrees but it is truthfully in the algorithms. The more you look up something, hashtag, or follow, the more likely you will see content of that nature.

Is there a solution? It is evident that social media platforms have gotten so big and so out of control however there is still a chance to make a change in the digital world for future generations. Frances Haugen, Michelle, and parents all over the world coming forward and speaking up on behalf of the billions of social media users. This is a step in the right direction. If we continue to advocate for protection of children on social media platforms, there is a better opportunity for a more concrete list of social media ethical standards.

phone with apps
Facebook and Instagram App Icons
Photo: Yui Mok/ PA

With regulation there is potential to stop the harm platforms have on children’s mental health. The biggest impact for change will come directly from these big name companies, like Facebook. Instead of having loyalty to the company and profit, platforms should start focusing on the best interest of both their users and society as a whole for a better, healthier virtual future. 

Written by Sabella Fabiano

Adaptive Fashion and Marketing Ethics

Meghan Barrasso

Adaptive fashion is on the rise and by 2026, it’s expected to be valued at $400 billion. This industry is exploding in current fashion and since the need for these types of products are so high, so is the need to market them.

Adaptive fashion is clothing, accessories or footwear specially designed around the needs and abilities of people with varying degrees of disabilities. Disabled people are one of the largest minority groups in the world, yet in fashion, they are extremely underrepresented. This may be because of what we are used to seeing in the media – which is often a small sized model who is usually white. However, with current trends changing and diversity “selling” more and more in the media, brands are learning to shift their marketing strategies and join this inclusive revolution in fashion.

Inclusivity gives the opportunity for marginalized groups to have an opportunity to be represented. This inclusive revolution in fashion marketing can be seen in the works of Victoria’s Secret and their new line of diverse Angels, Tommy Hilfiger’s inclusive fashion line created in 2016, and Nike’s newer inclusive sneakers. 

Now that inclusive fashion is growing, what happens when a brand smaller than Victoria’s Secret, Tommy Hilfiger and Nike can’t market their inclusive products?

This is exactly what happened with inclusive clothing brand, Mighty Well – as well as many smaller businesses like them.

Mighty Well’s sweatshirt in question.

In early 2021, Mighty Well tried placing an ad on Facebook for a gray hooded sweatshirt with the text “I am immunocompromised – please give me space”. Immediately, Facebook’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) system that accepts or denies the advertisement requests, denied Mighty Well’s ad. Facebook’s reasoning was because the ad went against their policy of advertising “medical and healthcare products and services including medical devices”. Unfortunately, Facebook’s AI system missed the mark on what Mighty Well was actually advertising, which was an inclusive sweatshirt. 

Another company called Yarrow, ran into the same issues as Mighty Well with Facebook advertising. Yarrow was trying to advertise pants and used an inclusive model who uses a wheelchair in their ad. Facebook’s AI denied the ad because of the wheelchair, not because of the actual product. 

Yarrow’s denied advertisement

After both Mighty Well and Yarrow resubmitted their advertisement requests, Facebook eventually accepted the ad and apologized for their AI system not catching the product being advertised and focusing on the medical device instead.

Although both companies were able to advertise their products, the problem in these two cases is the lengths that it took to get the advertisement out there. Some may argue that this was not a human error, but an AI error – however, humans make the codes for Facebook’s AI advertisements. Smaller companies should have the same ease and access that larger companies, like Nike and Tommy Hilfiger, have when it comes to marketing these inclusive products. 

Mighty Well, Yarrow, and other smaller inclusive fashion companies may start to stray away from using Facebook advertising if problems like this continue. All inclusive fashion companies, big and small, should have the ease of marketing just like regular fashion brands so underrepresented groups can finally feel represented in fashion.

Kevin Hart Vs. The Media

By Joseph T. LeBlanc

Kevin Hart has been at the top of the world for over a decade now. I can safely assume that everyone at some capacity has seen one of his movies or has at least an idea of who he is. His career was and still is in full throttle. According to the NY Times, in December of 2018, Kevin Hart was asked by the Academy of Motion Pictures to host the 2019 Academy Awards ceremony (A.K.A.: The Oscars). The very next day after he got asked to host, was the day that everything started to change.

Kevin Hart during one of his stand-up performances in 2014.

Over a span of three different years, from 2009 to 2011. Kevin Hart had posted some homophobic tweets on Twitter. Which he received criticism for, but quickly apologized at numerous press conferences for movies he was in. In an Fast forward to December 2018, and these comments are starting to resurface after 10 years. But the funny part is, is that the headlines are changing. Headlines such as Deadline’s “Defiant Kevin Hart Won’t Apologize, Tells Academy To Move On If It Must” are showing up. He stated on the Ellen DeGeneres show, in an interview with Ellen DeGeneres that he had already addressed these tweets at numerous events and premieres since 2011. The fire of ridicule kept getting bigger and bigger for Kevin. It got to the point where the Academy even gave Kevin Hart an ultimatum. According to an article from Variety, “the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences had given him an ultimatum: Apologize or we’ll find a new host.” That’s when Kevin Hart felt the Oscars would no longer be about him and he stepped down as the host and apologized again for his 10 year old Tweets.

A view from inside the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles, CA, where the Oscars is held anually to celebrate the best in film.

So, after first hearing about the controversy, I dug right in to see what I could learn about the situation. I have always been a huge fan of Kevin Hart because he is hilarious and so are his movies. However, I was never aware of these homophobic tweets that had surfaced. I was young when the tweets first came out so I never originally saw them before they got deleted and I never heard of it until this controversy sparked. It was basically forgotten about. I just think it is ridiculous to throw something back at someone after they have apologized and have fixed their ways. It’s just not fair.

It was especially not fair for the Oscars to give Kevin Hart that ultimatum because he has repeatedly stated that he has apologized for these tweets and they failed to recognize that. If I were Kevin Hart, I would be insulted and disappointed at the Academy because they should be able to trust the actor and do the right thing and get all of the facts before giving someone that extreme ultimatum. Especially because, if you watch Kevin’s movies, comedy specials, and social media since these tweets were sent out, you would notice that he was never made another homophobic reference at all. According to NECN, “Hart said he makes sure not to speak that way in his comedy act anymore or post similar content on social media”. He has literally addressed the problem and has worked on cutting out that material, which he has, and he is still getting bashed for it.

In my opinion, I think Kevin should have continued as the host, to prove to the trolls who brought him down, that he can’t be broken down. Although, I do see why he decided to step down, because he did not want to take attention away from the nominees who earned their way to be apart of the night. And for that, I have gained even more respect for him.

J.R Smith Stereotyped by the Media: Missed Opportunity for Journalism to Share his Story

By Max Newton

J.R Smith, a professional basketball player now turned collegiate golfer after 20 years of professional basketball.
Image credit

J.R Smith retired from his professional basketball career in 2020 after playing 15 seasons for 4 separate teams. He had a very successful National Basketball Association (NBA) career, winning 2 championships and being a prominent player on most teams he played on. After retirement, he had to figure out what was next for him, he ultimately decided he wanted to go to college, he ended up enrolling and North Carolina AT&T State. On top of going to school, he received a waiver from the NCAA giving him permission to play college golf while at school (usually professional athletes lose their NCAA eligibility for athletics once they receive compensation for a sport). Having gone straight from high school to the NBA, J.R Smith had previously missed out on his chance to go to college and get an education, now he has a chance to get that opportunity.

While this would seem like an opportunity to promote his decision, publicly celebrate the fact that a rich, prominent star is taking the time to go to college at an older age, the media didn’t see it as an opportunity to do so. They mocked J.R Smith, made fun of his decisions, portrayed him as a partier, Hennessy drinker, and that he was going to college as a joke of some sort (Diddy, 2021). The media played into the stereotype of an African American going to college. To J.R Smiths credit, he ended up calling out the media, specifically BuzzFeed who were heavy contributors to this negative press.

J.R Smith participating in his first collegiate golf tournament over the weekend (October 9th 2021)
Image credit

Here’s where I see the issue, this was an opportunity for the media to promote the decision J.R Smith made, a chance to share his story with the world, show little kids everywhere the maturity and dedication J.R Smith is showing and how he is making a decision in order to better his quality of life. He doesn’t need a degree to get a job that makes more money, he has plenty of money ($90 million career earnings (J.R Smith Career Earnings, 2021)). The media was simply looking for a quick hit on an article and ultimately, they approached this topic insensitively and unethically. If instead, they had brought J.R Smith in to do an interview, give him a voice to share his story and help inspire people everywhere, this decision by J.R Smith would have had a much greater impact on people around the world, especially African American kids. Imagine being an African American kid and seeing all the negative press and hate that J.R Smith was getting for simply wanting to go to school? Would that inspire and motivate you to want to go to college? Or would that make you potentially shy away from that route?

In the end, the media, specifically BuzzFeed handled this situation terribly. They had an opportunity to really showcase this decision made by a prominent figure but instead used it as a mockery in hopes of a quick laugh. I guess I understand that their page primarily focuses on these aspects of stories but this situation truly seems like a missed opportunity and one where they could have been able to help change lives and help change the culture of race in the world by simply giving J.R Smith a platform to share his opinion.


Diddy, S. (2021, August 15). NBA’s JR Smith BLAST Media Cracking Jokes About His Return To College. Retrieved from KMEL:

J.R Smith Career Earnings. (2021). Retrieved from sportrac:

Social Media and Custody Decisions: What’s Trending?

by Ashley LoPresti

Social Media Logos
Social Media Logos, found via

We live in a time where social media has run rampant. Different social media platforms have progressed and advanced, and now, all of its users are achieving their goals of showing the world glimpses of their life – the glimpses they want the world to see, that is. The advent of social media caused an influx of careers for influencers, which also contributed to the ‘bragging’ or ‘flexing’ on social media platforms that users tend to do. 

We show off our new, fancy foreign cars and designer clothes with hopes of getting likes and comments from our social circles in return. We may show off elaborate dinner dates, or like some celebrities, the expensive bills that result from those dinners. We may think that these things look impressive or show others that we are successful, but in reality, it can cause further issues in our private lives than the standard user tends to think about before clicking that ‘post’ button.

For the everyday user, we may choose to educate others, or express our political/religious views through social media in hopes that we can make connections with other like minded users. For some, this may work, and create a new network of friends for them to banter with. For others, like the mother in the court case Dexter v. Dexter out of the Ohio Court System, it lands them in further legal trouble. 

In Dexter v. Dexter, the mother appealed a custody decision which granted custody of their daughter to the birth father, stating that she felt “the trial court erred in interjecting its own biases regarding her lifestyle and religious choices when making its custody determination.” Excerpt from “DOES THE USE OF SOCIAL MEDIA EVIDENCE IN FAMILY LAW LITIGATION MATTER?” authored by Marcia Canavan and Eva Kolstad.

Ohio State Court of Appeals
Ohio State Court of Appeals, found via

The appellate court upheld the divorce court’s decision in granting custody to the father, and after examining the mother’s social media accounts, it’s clear to see why. The court, through evaluating the mother’s own personal blog, her MySpace account postings, and other platforms, found the following information that would jeopardize the health, safety, and welfare of the daughter at issue:

  1. The mother practices sado-masochism, which is defined by Merriam-Webster, is the “derivation of sexual gratification from the infliction of physical pain or humiliation either on another person or on oneself.”
  2. The mother admitted to previous drug usage, and even stated that she plans on continuing usage of drugs after the trial, including when her daughter is sleeping in her house. 

This is just one example of social media’s influence on custodial matters. As the usage of social media is becoming an everyday feature in our lives, there will be more mentions of social media posts in evidence for custody trials. Just think of a parent who says they can’t pay their court ordered child support, then posts a picture on Instagram of their new designer purse or designer watch. 

I believe that in this case, the custodial issue was fairly addressed and that there was no reason for the mother to bring this to a higher court. We all make our own decisions, and unfortunately, those decisions can harm others without it being our intention of doing so. In this case, her decision to be involved in these practices does jeopardize the safety of her child, and she should not be the custodial parent for said child. If the individual is posting on social media to the public, there cannot be an adequate claim made regarding privacy rights for those posts being utilized in court proceedings. I think that we knowingly and willingly post this information, so there should be no problem with these posts being utilized in the name of justice.

Social media postings are important because they show the world a different version of yourself, much like your work personality may be different from the personality you take on at home. Social media has shown us through many different celebrity scandals time and time again that their posts will come back and harm them, and it’s clear to see that the everyday users are not immune to that treatment either.

Image of Judge’s Gavel in Court Room via

The Umbrella Academy Controversy

The Umbrella Academy, one of Netflix’s original hit television shows, is coming under fire as being antisemitic due to the language that the villain of the series speaks. By having “The Handler,” played by Kate Walsh, speak Yiddish, many people in the Jewish community feel attacked by the choice of language. Walsh has also starred as Dr. Addison Montgomery in both “Grey’s Anatomy” and the spin-off series “Private Practice,” where her character was the main focus during its run. Even though Walsh’s character also speaks Mandarin and Swedish, it is interesting that there is a big outcry when Yiddish is not the sole language spoken by Walsh.

Due to this dilemma and concerns of the viewers, The Umbrella Academy’s co-creator created a response to the situation. The response can be found here. The co-creator Steve Blackman is upset that viewers have been calling The Umbrella Academy antisemitic as it is hurtful and factually incorrect. Blackman, who is Jewish, wrote the episode where Walsh’s character spoke the Yiddish language and is backing up the claim that “The Handler” was not created as an antisemitic character and that viewers have misconstrued the intention of having her speak the language.

Image of Kate Walsh’s character “The Handler” from Reddit. Image Address

Many viewers see the organization “The Handler” works for as “evil,” and that was not the intention of the creators. “The Commission”, the name of the organization “The Handler” works for on the television show does not control the media or governments; it is their job to protect the timeline of the fictional universe.

After reading the response of Blackman and knowing that “The Handler” speaks all languages and not just one here and there, it seems that this outcry could be an overreaction to a fictional television series. It seems that Blackman, who is also Jewish, would not want to harm those that share his religion in any way. Once Blackman explained that “The Handler,” speaks all languages, not just Yiddish, Swedish, Mandarin, or English, I wonder if the public will see “The Handler” speaking all different languages in future episodes to put this problem to rest and appease the Jewish viewers of the show. Watching the show, I did not remember that the character was speaking Yiddish, and as for me, it was just a language that I knew I had to read the subtitles for, as I do for all foreign languages showcased, such as Swedish and Mandarin.

Screenshot of “The Handler” speaking in Yiddish in the Netflix Series The Umbrella Academy from The Sun. Image Address

The error that was made in this scenario was using the language in the first place. People today seem to get offended by everything in every possible way. There are many things that cannot fly or get past sensors, which could have easily been played on shows in the past. Blackman is trying to ease the tensions that came up with this situation, and I think viewers will see a change when season 3 comes out in early 2022. In this case, the choice Blackman makes on how to respond and fix the issue can end up being a decision of having a duty to self, a duty to his company, and a duty to the community. By explaining his decision and the reasoning behind the character, I hope that the public will understand why the show made the choices it did when choosing languages to portray on screen.

Written by: Cara Cahill