The Nine-owned Sydney Morning Herald has been forced into damage control after it was claimed an SMH journalist pressured the Australian actress Rebel Wilson (right in lead image) to come out in her new relationship with a woman.
Wilson, 42, shocked everyone on Thursday when she used social media to reveal she was in a relationship with the fashion designer and founder of the label LEMON VE LIMON, Ramona Agruma (left in lead image).
The Instagram post read: “I thought I was searching for a Disney Prince … but maybe what I really needed all this time was a Disney Princess.” The post included a photo of Wilson and Agruma.
The couple have apparently been dating for some time and Agruma was photographed accompanying Wilson to the Oscars back in March.
However, in Saturday’s SMH, its Private Sydney editor and former B&T scribe, Andrew Hornery, wrote that he had known about the relationship for some time and had apparently pressured Wilson and her management by giving them two days to respond to his questions about the relationship. Wilson, in turn, went public with the details, apparently so it wouldn’t be broken in Hornery’s column.
So apparently it wasn’t @RebelWilson‘s choice to come out… The @smh/@theage have admitted to giving her a heads up 2 days in advance that they were going to “out” her. What’s worse, openly gay men at the Sydney Morning Herald were involved in this. 🤦🏼♀️ https://t.co/Zl80zg01SW
— Kate Doak (@katedoak) June 11, 2022
The apparent “outing” was first noticed by 10 journalist Kate Doak who tweeted: “So apparently it wasn’t @RebelWilson‘s choice to come out… The @smh/@theage have admitted to giving her a heads up two days in advance that they were going to ‘out’ her. What’s worse, openly gay men at the Sydney Morning Herald were involved in this.”
Both Hornery and the SMH’s editor Bevan Shields are openly gay.
In his Saturday column (which you can read in full HERE), Hornery wrote: “It was an abundance of caution and respect that this media outlet emailed Rebel Wilson’s representatives on Thursday morning, giving her two days to comment on her new relationship with another woman, LA leisure wear designer Ramona Agruma, before publishing a single word.
“Big mistake. Wilson opted to gazump the story, posting about her new ‘Disney Princess’ on Instagram early Friday morning, the same platform she had previously used to brag about her handsome ex-boyfriend, wealthy American beer baron Jacob Busch.”
Hornery added it was Rebel had her “bestie”, the actor Hugh Sheridan, were doing radio interviews on breakfast FM on Friday morning, during which Sheridan had bragged about introducing the women to each other some six months ago.
“Apparently they had hit it off pretty much immediately, but had kept the relationship under wraps,” he said.
“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.”
The kerfuffle forced SMH editor Bevan Shields to publish a letter explaining “transparency” about what actually happened. Read it in full HERE.
Shields penned: “Our weekly Private Sydney celebrity column last week asked Wilson if she wished to comment about her new partner. We would have asked the same questions had Wilson’s new partner been a man,” he wrote.
“To say that the Herald ‘outed’ Wilson is wrong.
“Like other mastheads do every day, we simply asked questions and as standard practice included a deadline for a response. I had made no decision about whether or what to publish, and the Herald’s decision about what to do would have been informed by any response Wilson supplied.
“Private Sydney is a column in which the writer’s interaction with his subjects is often part of the story. Saturday’s piece followed that theme in giving readers insights into our interaction with Wilson and her PR team. This was not a standard news story.”
Not that social media appeared to be siding with The SMH‘s version of events anytime soon.
One person tweeted: “I’ve just read this @smh piece 3 times to make sure that I wasn’t misreading. The publication messaged Rebel Wilson saying they would out her in 2 days – and is now complaining that she chose to announce her relationship with a woman herself. Quite astonishing.”
Another wrote: “Sydney Morning Herald issuing a think piece on how they gave Rebel Wilson 48 hours before outing her to the world, but *she* is the bad person for using that time to come out on her terms has left me flummoxed. What a thing to do, let alone admit to, let alone expect pity for.”
While another raged: “When I saw ‘the Sydney Morning Herald threatened to out Rebel Wilson and then complained that she scooped them’ I thought someone had leaked an email or something. It never occurred to me that they would publish this narrative of the events in print and expect it go to well.”