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Image / Agenda / Breaking Stories

The Sydney Morning Herald’s Rebel Wilson coverage has left a bad taste in the mouths of many


By Sarah Gill
14th Jun 2022

@rebelwilson

The Sydney Morning Herald’s Rebel Wilson coverage has left a bad taste in the mouths of many

Although they’ve removed the controversial column and acknowledged their errors, the Australian newspaper maintains that they had no intention of ‘outing’ Rebel Wilson.

The Sydney Morning Herald’s (SMH) are making headlines across the globe for all the wrong reasons.

In a since deleted article, gossip columnist Andrew Hornery wrote that he essentially forced Rebel Wilson’s hand, rushing her to share her same-sex relationship before the newspaper did it for her.

Stating that the journalist approached a representative of Wilson’s “an abundance of care and respect … giving her two days to comment on her new relationship with another woman” before publishing a word.

The column continues: “Big mistake. Wilson opted to gazump the story, posting about her new “Disney Princess” on Instagram.”

“Considering how bitterly Wilson had complained about poor journalism standards when she successfully sued Woman’s Day for defamation, her choice to ignore our discreet, genuine and honest queries was, in our view, underwhelming.”

Naturally, quite a bit of backlash ensued.

The wording of the piece warrants much scrutiny, and the overall tone of the article was one of infantile grouchiness. The journalist was clearly not happy that the Pitch Perfect actress had taken the exclusive out of his hands. In referring to their attempt at giving Wilson a grace period to respond as a “big mistake”, they’re setting a dangerous precedent. Will others be afforded that same luxury?

In response to the public outrage, editor Bevan Shields penned an article of his own to assure readers that the Herald did not ‘out’ Rebel Wilson. “Like other mastheads do every day,” Shields wrote. “We simply asked questions and as standard practice included a deadline for a response.”

In an attempt to further clear things up, the Private Sydney columnist wrote an op-ed entitled ‘I made mistakes over Rebel Wilson, and will learn from them’.

“I genuinely regret that Rebel has found this hard,” Hornery wrote. “That was never my intention. But I see she has handled it all with extraordinary grace. As a gay man I’m well aware of how deeply discrimination hurts. The last thing I would ever want to do is inflict that pain on someone else.”

“My email was never intended to be a threat but to make it clear I was sufficiently confident with my information and to open a conversation. It is not the Herald’s business to “out” people and that is not what we set out to do.”

While Rebel Wilson is yet to make an official comment on the situation, she did respond to a Tweet from 10 News First journalist Kate Doak saying it was a “very hard situation” but is trying to “handle it with grace.”

In the year 2022, you would imagine that stories like this would be a thing of the distant past.