The tide finally receded late Tuesday, as Erin Andrews’ four-day reign atop Google’s most-searched list fell behind news about fighter plane orders and eventually other matters of public interest.
But the sordid saga of the ESPN reporter being caught nude on camera in a hotel room by a video-savvy creep is a long way from being over.
There is too much still to wring out of it, from the story of who shot the video to how Andrews will deal with the aftershocks when she returns to work for college football season to, alas, the video itself.
Although the blogosphere showed uncommon restraint in mostly scrubbing the Internet of it — under threat of legal action — some in the mainstream TV and print media shamefully disseminated it.
The strangest part was that some portrayed it as breaking news, unable to resist those stunning images, even though four days had passed since her lawyer and later ESPN confirmed it was her on the video.
Nothing much has changed since then, other than the kind of media introspection in which we in the media specialize.
What made this case unusual was that much of the angst has come from sports blogs, including mine, which usually offer seemingly harmless, fraternity-style fun aimed at young males who enjoy watching sports and young females.
Andrews was the reigning queen of that realm and a good sport about playing along with the obsession over her as the very attractive girl next door.
Still, she knew the fine line she was walking, and told me at Citi Field earlier this year of her concern over some of the darker corners of her fan base.
When one of them emerged from the shadows, it wasn’t so much fun anymore for bloggers, and we reacted as if a friend had been violated.
You don’t often see that in the snark-infested waters of the Internet.
Is it a stretch to draw a direct line from a lone criminal with a camera to the newspaper and Internet writers who hopped on the Erin bandwagon?
Of course. No sane human approves of what happened, and none of us is directly complicit in the act. But the peculiar culture that grew around her — remember, she is a reporter, not an actress or rock star or model — surely contributed to the ongoing fascination with the video.
Where do we go from here? ESPN has deemed the entire matter not newsworthy enough to report on, and eventually the media circus will move on.
Andrews will be back on the job in September, presumably less accessible than she used to be, and likely with her fans, in person and online, giving her more personal space than they used to.
The media never will treat her quite the same way again, but the essentials of the game won’t change. By Tuesday, Web sites from those of major California newspapers to sports blogs had posted video of Laker Girls tryouts. Fun!