Long before the current #MeToo moment, sexual-misconduct allegations against Olympic snowboarder and part-time guitar player Shaun White emerged in August 2016 — accusations that have been shamefully glossed over in much of the coverage of the 2018 Winter Olympics. Last night, ABC’s Matt Gutman finally pushed White to discuss the accusations after winning the gold at the Snowboard Men’s Halfpipe Final, which the snowboarder dismissed as “gossip.”
White’s first response came as an interjection during Gutman’s question to correct the reporter’s pronunciation of Lena Zawaideh, the female member of his rock band who sued White for sexual harassment for allegedly sending her sexually explicit images of “engorged and erect penises” and forcing her to watch sexually disturbing videos. The suit was reportedly settled privately last year.
Gutman then finished his question about the allegations, asking White, “Are you concerned that they are going to tarnish your legacy?”
White responded, “Honestly, I’m here to talk about the Olympics, not gossip and stuff. I don’t think so — I am who I am and I’m proud of who I am and my friends love me and vouch for me and I think that stands on its own.” The moderator then shut down any discussion of the accusations, requesting that journalists only ask White about his Olympics performance.
Soon after, he left to go to the medal ceremony.
Update: White has since apologized for his poor word choice. On this morning’s TODAY show, he said, “I’m truly sorry that I chose the word gossip. It was a poor choice of words to describe such a sensitive subject in the world today.”