Survivor’s Jeff Varner Apologized for Outing Zeke Smith as Transgender, Pity Witch Hunt Continues in News Media

News media on its usual witch hunt after Jeff Varner outs Zeke Smith as transgender, even after Jeff Varner apologized

The news media is using its usual witch hunt tactics after a North Carolina real estate company fired Jeff Varner this week, a contestant on the current season of ‘Survivor‘, after he outed a fellow contestant as transgender.

The company fired Jeff Varner from his job the day after the ‘Survivor‘ episode aired on CBS showing Varner outing Zeke Smith during tribal council. The real estate company, Allen Tate Realtors, told Varner they fired him because “he was in the middle of a news story that we don’t want anything to do with”.

What most of these stories don’t talk about, however, is that, yes, while what he did was awful, terrible and definitely bigoted and wrong, Jeff Varner apologized to Zeke Smith several times in the 10 months since the episode was filmed, on his own Twitter account, and even did so again in a lengthy People magazine interview that was published this week.

Varner has also said he has been in therapy since the incident and has been “educating myself and advocating even more so for the LGBTQ community. I feel like I was able to do some really good work in that time that I hope to continue.”

Most of the news media, however, continues to go on the attack against Varner which, in my mind, certainly doesn’t help someone who is obviously feeling terrible for what he said.

After all, we all make mistakes. We all say things we wish we hadn’t. And we all hope that someone will forgive us.

Even Zeke Smith the man who was outed on ‘Survivor‘, says although he still has problems forgiving Varner, “I think forgiveness is about hope — hope that he understands why what he did was wrong, hope that he doesn’t ever do something like this again and hope that whatever compelled him to give into his worst instincts in a dark moment is resolved for him.”

Smith went on to say, “I do wish him the best. I just think I wish him the best from afar.”

Wouldn’t it be nice if more of the judgmental and attack-focused news media could do the same?

Michelle Topham

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