The item was the closer on the local Boston news. The face of Tonya Harding came on the television screen just minutes before the start of Letterman. Tonya Harding? This was Thanksgiving night, and apparently Tonya had helped hand out turkey dinners at some homeless shelter in Portland during the day. Or maybe she had delivered food to shut-ins. She had done something. Something charitable.
Nancy Kerrigan couldn't believe what she was seeing. Tonya?
"Why would the station be showing that?" she said a couple of days later. "What was the point? Tonya said something like, 'Oh, this isn't part of my court-ordered service. I just wanted to help.' Just wanted to help? Why wouldn't they show somebody who'd been handing out meals for 30 years instead of giving her credibility? And why show it in Boston? These are the same stations that have been treating me pretty rough. What's it all about?"
The irony seemed to scream through the New England night. Who was the victim and who was the perpetrator? The lines of public justice had taken a curious course. Who was the good girl and who was the bad girl? Who, at the very least, had consorted with a bunch of thugs, pleaded guilty to hindering prosecution and then could be seen in an X-rated wedding-night video? That person was shown as a second-helping angel of mercy. And who was now in the National Enquirer? The party of the second part. The victim.
"I shouldn't even watch the news," Kerrigan says. "I shouldn't even read the newspapers. Yeah, it's sad that I do. I watch, and I see all these scary things, so many really terrible things. And then they're showing some negative story about me."
Why me? Her famous question hangs there again.
She has been burned, and she has been burned, and she has been burned some more. There is no doubt that many of the burns have been self-inflicted: words that shouldn't have been spoken, attitudes that shouldn't have been taken, a defensiveness, almost an animosity toward the great media dance that surrounds—and helps hype—her booming ice skating career. By now it's hard to figure out who burned whom.
"You're talking to Nancy?" her mother, Brenda, asks a reporter. "You're going to interview her? Good luck."
"She won't talk," Brenda says. "She'll answer questions, but she won't talk like we're talking now. It's beyond all that. She's afraid. Too much has happened."