By Robb Murray
Free Press Staff Writer
MANKATO — Seconds after Annie Stensrud disappeared from the KEYC-TV anchor desk that night, it was already too late.
With a Tevo or DVR or some other recorder of televised content in millions of homes across America, the odds that someone wasn’t recording when Stensrud had the worst broadcast of her life were pretty slim. And it took only days for a recording to hit YouTube. And by then, it was over.
She and her station assured viewers she was merely over medicated. And it’s possible that was true.
But just about all her credibility disappeared last week when she was arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated.
Stensrud was picked up on Highway 14 after an anonymous caller tipped off police. After refusing a blood-alcohol breath test, she was forced to submit a urine sample, and that test, authorities say, showed she was nearly three times the legal limit to drive.
She has obtained an attorney and her case should be in court sometime in early 2012.
But most who have followed her case won’t forget the video that started it all. It went viral, of course, generating several hundred thousand views. To most who saw it, Stensrud appeared intoxicated. Most, including David Letterman.
“The category tonight: Top 10 reasons your local news team is drunk,” said Letterman, whose nightly bit took aim at Stensrud. “This poor woman, Annie Stensrud, they think — they don’t know for sure — but they think she may have been drunk. Roll the clip.”
Up until this point, only the station had issued any kind of comment on the broadcast, saying basically that they couldn’t comment on the unusual broadcast.
But eventually, by mid-week after the broadcast, anyone who wanted to see had more than ample chance to do so. And this is when Stensrud broke her silence.
“My performance last Sunday night was terrible, and for that, I apologize,” Stensrud said in a written statement posted on the KEYC website. “I’ve been sick for some time and taking medication and have missed a lot of work lately. I’m on my way to feeling better and hope to be back at full strength soon. I appreciate everyone’s understanding and even more so, their support.”
Station Manager Denny Wahlstrom, contacted for this story prior to Stensrud’s arrest, said the station is standing behind Stensrud, who had yet to have appeared on camera for the station since the incident.
“She’s just on a little leave, and our hope is that she will rejoin us. Soon,” Wahlstrom said.
In the aftermath of the viral video, there were, of course, those who condemned Stensrud. But on Facebook pages and YouTube videos, including several produced in reaction to the Stensrud incident, not everyone has chastised her.
“There was a tremendous amount of support,” Wahlstrom said.
Following the drunken driving arrest, however, scales have trended the other way, although many have wished her well in hopes that she gets help.