Australian paper denies ‘outing’ Rebel Wilson as it faces a wave of criticism


Australian paper denies ‘outing’ Rebel Wilson as it faces a wave of criticism for accusing the star of ‘gazumping’ their story

  • The actress and comedian on Friday posed with new partner Romana Agruma
  • Wilson’s 11.1 million Instagram followers reacted with delight to the public post
  • But Sydney Morning Herald columnist Andrew Hornery hit out at the star
  • He sensationally accused her of ruining his exclusive on the pair’s relationship 
  • Paper published a statement denying wrongdoing and wishing the couple well 
  • It came after Hornery’s column sparked a major backlash across social media 

An Australian newspaper has denied attempting to ‘out’ Rebel Wilson after complaining she ruined its exclusive by posting about her relationship with a woman before the story had been published.

The actress and comedian on Friday posed with clothing designer Romana Agruma for a social media post which read: ‘I thought I was searching for a Disney Prince… but maybe what I really needed all this time was a Disney Princess.’ 

Wilson’s 11.1 million followers reacted with delight to the relationship announcement, commenting their support with various positive comments and emojis. 

But on Saturday, The Sydney Morning Herald’s Andrew Hornery published a column in which he hit out at Wilson’s decision to ‘gazump’ his scoop, arguing he had found out about the relationship and was going to publish a story about it.

Hornery said he had given Wilson two days to respond to questioning, effectively forcing the actor’s hand, yet became angry when the star chose to take control of the narrative herself.

‘This media outlet emailed Rebel Wilson’s representatives on Thursday morning, giving her two days to comment on her new relationship… Wilson opted to gazump the story, posting about her new ”Disney Princess” on Friday morning,’ the column read.

‘Considering how bitterly Wilson had complained about poor journalism standards… her choice ignore our discreet genuine and honest queries was underwhelming,’ Hornery added. 

The article prompted a major backlash on social media with users bowled over by the newspaper’s insensitivity, prompting editor Bevan Shields to pen a lengthy statement denying any wrongdoing and wishing the couple well.

The actress and comedian on Friday shared a snap on social media posing with new partner Romana Agruma

The actress and comedian on Friday shared a snap on social media posing with new partner Romana Agruma

Social media users and fellow journalists hammered the Sydney Morning Herald for trying to 'out' Wilson

The Sydney Morning Herald's Andrew Hornery hit out at Wilson's decision to 'gazump' his scoop

The Sydney Morning Herald’s Andrew Hornery hit out at Wilson’s decision to ‘gazump’ his scoop. Social media users and fellow journalists later hammered the newspaper for trying to ‘out’ Wilson

Rebel Wilson attends the Netflix Senior Year Special Screening at The London West Hollywood at Beverly Hills on May 10, 2022 in West Hollywood, California

Rebel Wilson attends the Netflix Senior Year Special Screening at The London West Hollywood at Beverly Hills on May 10, 2022 in West Hollywood, California

Sydney Morning Herald Editor’s full statement on Rebel Wilson ‘outing’ backlash  

‘On Saturday, The Herald published an article about Australian actor Rebel Wilson and her new partner Ramona Agruma. The article ran online and was a small item on page 36 of Saturday’s print edition.

‘The article has promoted some public attention and I’ve been reading this feedback closely. In the interests of transparency I wanted to offer The Herald’s view on this issue.

‘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.

‘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.

‘Wilson made the decision to publicly disclose her new partner – who had been a feature of her social media accounts for months.

‘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.

‘We wish Wilson and Agruma well.’

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‘Still reeling from the fact a publication gave someone a deadline to out them in 2022,’ BBC Reporter Meghan Mohan wrote. ‘I’ve just read this piece 3 times to make sure that I wasn’t misreading.’

Others expressed outright anger at the paper’s approach to the story, with one social media user writing: ‘am so beyond disgusted at this. turns out [Wilson] only came out to avoid being forcefully outed and now that newspaper is pissed at her for ruining their scoop??’

Wilson herself responded to outrage at the Sydney Morning Herald and an outpouring of support from her fans, saying she was trying to handle a ‘very hard situation with grace’.

LGBTQ+ campaigners also voiced their criticism of the paper, arguing that each individual should be able to decide how and when they want to share news of a same-sex relationship.

A Stonewall spokesperson said : ‘Coming out is a deeply personal decision. Whether, when and how to come out should be decided by the individual, entirely on their terms.

‘It is simply not OK to ”out” LGBTQ+ people or put pressure on us to come out. 

‘Media outlets should take care not to sensationalise LGBTQ+ lives and relationships.’

Meanwhile, Shields’ statement given in the wake of the backlash denied any wrongdoing on behalf of the paper.

He argued that the paper had made no decision about what it would have published had Wilson not publicly announced her relationship and instead responded to questions.

He wrote: ‘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.’

Shields pointed out Hornery’s was a column ‘in which the writer’s interaction with his subjects is often part of the story’, adding he did not consider it to be a ‘standard news story’.

The Sydney Morning Herald did reveal the pair have already ‘discussed marriage and starting a family together’.

Wilson, 42, has also reportedly introduced Agruma, 38, to her mother Sue Bownds who lives in Sydney

A source told People Magazine that their relationship is very serious and they have been dating each other for the last six months.

‘It’s been very cool for Rebel’s friends to see her this secure with someone’, they said. 

Actor and singer Hugh Sheridan said he was responsible for introducing the happy couple to each other. 

Date night: Rebel and Ramona attended the Vanity Fair Oscar's After Party in March 2022 but didn't announce their relationship until this week

Date night: Rebel and Ramona attended the Vanity Fair Oscar’s After Party in March 2022 but didn’t announce their relationship until this week

Australian actor and comedian Rebel Wilson (pictured) shared the news of her new relationship with clothing designer Romana Agruma on Friday

Australian actor and comedian Rebel Wilson (pictured) shared the news of her new relationship with clothing designer Romana Agruma on Friday

‘I’d been setting Rebel up with various people and Ramona up with various people. I’m a bit of a matchmaker in my spare time,’ he said. 

Wilson herself told People magazine last month she was enjoying a ‘very romantic’ relationship with her new partner, but did not confirm Agruma’s identity at the time.

‘We spoke on the phone for weeks before meeting. And that was a really good way to get to know each other,’ the actress said. 

‘It was a bit old-school in that sense – very romantic.’

Wilson continued: ‘I think it escalates things quicker, meeting someone from a trusted source. I can trust that they are who they say they are, which is something that you don’t really know on the apps.’

The How to Be Single star spoke about her previous attempts to find love, which included ‘dating 50 people in one year’ for practice.

Rebel explained: ‘I think I went out with about 50 people in that one year, but some of them were just one date and then you think, ”Oh, no”

‘I deliberately wanted to push myself to date a bunch of people and gain that experience, which I know is not normal, but it really helped me find out what I liked and what I didn’t like.’

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