Burning Question

Olympian Lolo Jones' tearful Today interview: Has the media been unfair?

The track star failed to medal in her signature event following a brutal (and arguably unwarranted) takedown in the weekend's Times. Now she's speaking out

The video: On Tuesday, Olympian Lolo Jones placed a disappointing 4th in the women's 100m hurdles, capping off what had been a rough few days thanks to a scathing New York Times column published over the weekend. In the piece, "For Lolo Jones, Everything Is Image," sportswriter Jere Longman compared the American track star, 30, to Anna Kournikova, the tennis star more famous for her looks than her skills. Longman accused Jones of leveraging her image to earn endorsements, essentially framing her, says Mac McClelland at Reuters, as a "slutty, no-talent sellout." On Wednesday, Jones finally responded to the criticism, fighting back tears as she told the Today show's Savannah Guthri that she was "heartbroken" about being labeled an underachiever and compared to Kournikova. (Watch the interview below.) "They didn't even do their research... I have the American record... I have two world indoor titles. Just because I don't boast about these things, I don't think I should be ripped apart by the media." Jones is no stranger to media scrutiny: At the last Olympics she finished seventh in her event, then modeled nude for ESPN's body issue, and publicly declared that she is saving her virginity for marriage.

The reaction: The Times' piece is grossly unfair and hypocritical, says Reuters' McClelland. Jones' behavior would be perfectly "fine for a dude." Tim Tebow can prance around in the rain shirtless, and no one "accused him of compromising the integrity of football, or his soul." Jones finished fourth in her marquee event, a placement "totally worthy of endorsements and attention." If Jones had won a medal, says Alyssa Rosenberg at Slate, "it would have been... a delicious rebuke to the Times." But the hard work this "extraordinary" athlete put in shouldn't "count less" or be mocked because she came in fourth instead of third. "If you only care who wins gold, silver, and bronze, you might as well just tune in for the medal table update at the end of NBC's nightly broadcast." Watch the Today show interview here:

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