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TV news anchor in WI responds to email criticizing weight

Jennifer Livingston, a morning anchor with WKBT-TV in La Crosse, Wis., spoke out on air after a male viewer wrote her a letter chiding her for being overweight.
October 3, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
A Wisconsin news anchor is garnering attention after she took to the air to respond to a viewer who criticized her weight.

Jennifer Livingston responded to the email during a 4-minute segment on WKBT-TV in La Crosse, calling the writer a bully. She urged young viewers not to allow such people to define their self-worth.

She didn't identify the man, who wrote that he was surprised to see her physical condition hadn't improved for years. He told her that he hopes she doesn't consider herself a suitable example for young people, especially girls.

The man who wrote the email was identified as Kenneth Krause on the WKBT website. Krause told The Associated Press in an interview that his emails had nothing to do with bullying.

In her on-air response, Livingston acknowledged she was overweight but said the man's words were cruel. Livingston said she could brush off such comments but worried about children who didn't know how to do the same.

"The truth is, I am overweight. You could call me fat and yes 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?" Livingston said.

The 37-year-old appeared on "Good Morning America" on Wednesday, calling the email's contents a "low blow."

"This was a personal attack," Livingston said. "Calling me obese is one thing. Calling me a bad role model for our community that I've worked at for 15 years and especially for young girls when I have three girls was a low blow and I thought it was uncalled for and I wanted to call him out on it."

Livingston said she tried to laugh off the hurtful comments, but her husband Mike Thompson, who is also an anchor at the station, posted the email on Facebook, and an overwhelming amount of support poured in. Thompson defended his wife on "Good Morning America," saying Krause, like many others who comment anonymously, did so without knowing all the facts.

Watch Jennifer Livingston's interview on "Good Morning America"

What Krause does not know, Thompson said, is that Livingston runs triathlons, works out two to three times a week and has a thyroid condition that makes it harder for her to lose weight.

"He doesn't know any of that," Thompson said. "He decided to attack her for no reason."

WKTB said Krause submitted the following statement in response to Livingston's editorial:

"Given this country's present epidemic of obesity and the many truly horrible diseases related thereto, and considering Jennifer Livingston's fortuitous position in the community, I hope she will finally take advantage of a rare and golden opportunity to influence the health and psychological well-being of Coulee Region children by transforming herself for all of her viewers to see over the next year, and, to that end, I would be absolutely pleased to offer Jennifer any advice or support she would be willing to accept."

ABC News and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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