Reporter Isa Balado was in the midst of a live broadcast, covering a robbery in Madrid when a male passerby allegedly groped her on the buttocks. The man approached Balado from behind while she was on camera, reaching for her rear. While momentarily startled, Balado continued her live report for the Cuatro network, even smiling at the man.
The incident occurred as the country was still grappling with the fallout from the “World Cup kiss scandal.”
The program’s host, Nacho Abad, intervened, asking Balado to put the man in front of the camera. He labeled the man an “idiot” for his actions. Balado confirmed the incident as the alleged offender stood beside her. She addressed him, saying, “Do you really have to touch my bottom? I’m doing a live show and I’m working.”
The man denied the allegations and even tickled the top of her head before moving away. Spanish police later tweeted that the man had been arrested on suspicion of sexually assaulting a journalist.
This incident comes amidst Spain’s own “Me Too” movement, which gained traction after the country’s football federation president, Luis Rubiales, kissed World Cup winner Jenni Hermoso on the mouth without consent. The incident led to Rubiales’s resignation, citing untenable circumstances. A Spanish prosecutor filed a complaint against Rubiales for sexual assault and coercion.
Mediaset España, which owns the news channel where the incident took place, condemned the act against the reporter as “absolutely intolerable” and “categorically repudiated any form of harassment or aggression.”
Spain’s Labour Minister, Yolanda Díaz, also weighed in on the situation, emphasizing that such an alleged assault should not go unpunished and attributing it to machismo that makes journalists suffer sexual assaults while the aggressors remain unrepentant in front of the camera.
A disturbing incident of unwanted physical contact involving a female journalist on live television has sparked outrage in Spain.