Rebel Wilson: Australian newspaper takes down column as it denies trying to ‘out’ Senior Year star

‘I allowed my disappointment to cast a shadow over the piece,’ the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ journalist apologised for the controversial column

Netflix releases Senior Year trailer starring Rebel Wilson

An Australian newspaper has removed the column about Rebel Wilson’s new relationship – but denied trying to “out” the actor.

The comedian and actor came out in an Instagram post on Thursday (9 June), writing: “I thought I was searching for a Disney Prince… but maybe what I really needed all this time was a Disney Princess.”

In the post’s photo, Senior Year star Wilson could be seen posing with her new partner, leisurewear designer Ramona Agruma.

On Saturday (11 June), Australian newspaper The Sydney Morning Herald published the now-deleted article, stating they had given Wilson “two days” to comment on her new relationship before they would go ahead and report on it. In the article, journalist Andrew Hornery complained about Wilson stopping him from getting a scoop.

Hornery drew significant backlash online for “outing” Wilson in the “Private Sydney” column, with one person tweeting: “turns out rebel wilson only came out to avoid being forcefully outed and now that newspaper is p*****d at her for ruining their scoop??”

Now, in a replacement column, Hornery has apologised for the article, writing: “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.

“A celebrity romance is a happy story,” Hornery continued, adding, “When I started hearing from friends and associates of Rebel that she was in a new relationship, as a gossip columnist I could see that was potentially a story, as her previous boyfriends had been.

“So, after months of posts of the women together on Rebel’s Instagram account – from Oscars parties to Valentine’s Day, and most recently as VIP guests at the gay and lesbian World Pride Polo match in Florida – I assumed there was a good chance she might be happy to discuss it.”

But, Hornery admitted, “we mishandled steps in our approach”.

A screenshot of Andrew Hornery’s apology, published on Sydney Morning Herald on Monday (13 June)

The columnist then shared the contents of the email asking Wilson for comment on her relationship, indicating it “was never intended to be a threat” but rather to establish that Hornery was “sufficiently confident with [the] information and to open a conversation”.

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In the new column published on Monday (13 June), Hornery wrote: “It is not the Herald’s business to ‘out’ people and that is not what we set out to do. But I understand why my email has been seen as a threat. The framing of it was a mistake.”

“In trying to tell the story within the story, which is what Private Sydney does, the tone of my column on Saturday was also off. I got it wrong. I allowed my disappointment to cast a shadow over the piece. That was not fair and I apologise.”

Wilson commented on the situation on Twitter, writing: “Thanks for your comments, it was a very hard situation but trying to handle it with grace.”

Her comment was in response to a post by 10 News First journalist Kate Doak, that read: “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.”

On Sunday (12 June), the newspaper’s editor Bevan Shields issued a statement denying any wrongdoing, writing: “Like other mastheads do every day, we simply asked questions and as standard practice included a deadline for a response.

“Private Sydney is a column in which the writer’s interaction with his subjects is often part of the story,” Shields continued, adding, “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.”

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