The reporter shares the e-mail he sent to Wilson’s reps — and admits “the things I got wrong.”
A reporter being accused of attempting to “out” Rebel Wilson’s relationship with Ramona Agruma is speaking out, admitting he “made mistakes” with how he and his publication handled the situation in a new op-ed.
After the “Pitch Perfect” star revealed her new relationship, The Sydney Morning Herald reporter Andrew Hornery wrote a column explaining that the publication reached out to the actress’ team before the announcement and gave her “two days to comment on her new relationship with another woman … before publishing a single word.” The reporter went on to call that move a “big mistake,” as Wilson “opted to gazump the story” by posting it herself — and said “her choice to ignore our discreet, genuine and honest queries was, in our view, underwhelming.”
That column got a ton of backlash, as it made it seem like the outlet was planning to “out” the actress if she didn’t respond to them. Wilson also tweeted that “it was a very hard situation” for her, adding she was “trying to handle it with grace.”
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In a new post shared Monday, Hornery wrote that he has learned “some new and difficult lessons from this and want to be upfront with you about the things I got wrong.”
“I genuinely regret that Rebel has found this hard. That was never my intention. But I see she has handled it all with extraordinary grace,” he continued. “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.”
Hornery said that, after seeing a ton of photos of the two on Rebel’s Instagram account and learning she was in a new relationship, he “assumed there was a good chance she might be happy to discuss” the romance. Admitting he and the publication “mishandled steps in our approach,” Hornery then explained what they did wrong.
He said that her team asked him to put his questions in an email and said it’s “standard procedure” to include any deadlines when working on a piece. “It is always up to the subject whether or how they want to engage,” he wrote, before revealing what the e-mail allegedly said in its entirety.
“Good morning. I am a journalist from The Sydney Morning Herald and I was hoping I could get a comment from Rebel regarding her new relationship. While I realise Rebel’s partner has not been mentioned as yet, I have several sources who have confirmed their status and I have enough detail to publish,” he said. “However, in the interests of transparency and fairness, before publishing I am reaching out to Rebel to see if she will engage in what I believe is a happy and unexpected news story for her, especially given the recent Pride celebrations. My deadline is Friday, 1pm Sydney-time. Regards, Andrew Hornery.”
He said that Rebel’s response “would have largely determined” what was written and claimed there had been no decisions from the publication on whether anything would be published at all.
“I received no reply, which was entirely Rebel’s right,” he continued. Shortly after that, Rebel came out about the relationship on her own.
“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,” said Hornery, who said it’s not the publication’s “business to ‘out’ people and that is not what we set out to do.” He added, “But I understand why my email has been seen as a threat. The framing of it was a mistake.”
He promised he and the Herald as a whole will “approach things differently” going forward, especially when it comes to sexuality, and vowed to “make it clear that a deadline is not an ultimatum.” He went on to admit the “tone of my column … was also off” and “allowed my disappointment to cast a shadow over the piece.”
The original column has since been taken down by the Herald, with this new one taking its place.
Over the weekend, one of the Herald’s editors, Bevan Shields, corroborated Hornery’s assertion that there had been “no decision” made “about whether or what to publish” — confirming that “the Herald’s decision about what to do would have been informed by any response Wilson supplied.”
Shields also said “We would have asked the same questions had Wilson’s new partner been a man” and added, “To say that the Herald ‘outed’Wilson is wrong.”