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Meteorologist told to cover her 'inappropriate' dress with a sweater mid-broadcast

An L.A. news station is feeling the wrath of angry internet people today as footage of a female meteorologist being asked to cover her outfit with a sweater goes viral.

KTLA's Liberté Chan was handed a sweater mid-weather report to appease viewers who didn't like her dress

KTLA 5 in Los Angeles is feeling the wrath of angry internet people today as footage of meteorologist Liberté Chan being asked to cover up her body while live on air goes viral. (KTLA 5/Facebook)

It was sunny with a chance of sexism this weekend at KTLA in Los Angeles, if internet outrage can be taken as a barometer.

Footage of a female meteorologist being told to put a sweater on over her dress — while in the middle of a live weather forecast — has gone viral since airing as part of the station's Saturday morning news show, leaving thousands of horrified comments across the web in its wake.

As of Monday, the controversy surrounding this clip had blown up so much that it's now being referred to with a "gate" suffix — #sweatergate — and nothing says widespread digital backlash like a Twitter hashtag with gate on the end of it.

L.A. resident Megan McGrath was the first to upload a video of KTLA 5 meteorologist Liberté Chan being interrupted with a wardrobe complaint mid-broadcast, writing "they handed her a sweater LIVE ON THE AIR because they were 'getting a lot of emails.'"

Indeed, as the 30-second clip shows, Chan is busy presenting the day's forecast when a hand holding a cardigan comes into frame.

"What's going on?" she asks before walking over to the hand. "You want me to put this on? Why? Because it's cold?"

Another hand emerges to help Chan put the sweater over her bare shoulders while a man's voice answers, "We're getting a lot of emails."

Chan appears to laugh uncomfortably as she moves back into position.

"What? Really? OK," she says. "I look like a librarian now."

"That works," the man off-screen says. "It's a librarian who's gone to a cocktail party."

After finishing her report, Chan joined a co-worker to read out some of the complaint emails KTLA had received about her "inappropriate" dress.

Facebook Live replay on the meteorologist's fan page shows her colleague reading out comments such as "looks like she didn't make it home from a cocktail party last night" and "no doubt about it, Liberté Chan's New Year's Eve cocktail dress was inappropriate.… this was a display of very poor judgment."

 

As anyone who's tried their hand at reporting the weather can tell you, TV meteorologists have a tough job — with unique wardrobe requirements.

Not only does the profession require a science education, journalism experience and the ability to present maps backward while reporting live, it requires a knack for finding garments that don't pose problems in front of a green screen.

Chan holds a master's degree in public health, a bachelor's degree in journalism and certifications in both broadcast journalism and meteorology, for the record. She's also been on the air since 2003.

Many online are saying today that what she wears shouldn't be subject to criticism, ever — not from audience members or those she works for.

Still, the weather reporter felt necessary to explain why she wore a cocktail dress (one that she proudly previewed online ahead of Saturday's show) to do her job.

"To be perfectly honest, the black beaded dress was a backup," she wrote in a post on her blog Sunday. "The pattern on my original black and white dress didn't work on the weather wall (for some reason, it turned semi-transparent), so after my first weather hit at 6 a.m., I changed."

"During the 8 a.m. hour, my co-anchor came over and handed me a sweater and said, 'We're getting a lot of emails,'" she wrote. "I was surprised since I hadn't seen any of the emails and didn't think there was anything that inappropriate (the beads/sequins were probably a little much for the morning, but what girl doesn't like something that sparkles?!), so I played along and put on the sweater."

While Chan remains adamant that her co-workers were just joking around, the clip struck a lot of people as cringeworthy — if not symptomatic of larger issues surrounding women in media, science and society at large.

While grateful for the support, Chan is making it clear that she doesn't harbour any ill will toward her employer.

"For the record, there is no controversy at KTLA," her Sunday blog post reads. "My bosses did not order me to put on the cardigan, it was a spontaneous moment.… I truly love my job, I like my bosses and enjoy working with my coworkers… I want our viewers to know it was never our intention to offend anyone." 

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