On Feb. 13, snowboarder Shaun White came under fire for calling the previous allegations of sexual harassment against him "gossip" during a press conference that followed his Olympic win. Now, Shaun White has apologized for calling the allegations "gossip" and relayed to his accuser how apologetic he is for using the choice of words, as E! News noted.
White changed his tune with regard to the accusations only a day later, after he came under fire for his poor choice of words. In a statement given to the New York Times on Feb. 14, White said, “I regret my behavior of many years ago and am sorry that I made anyone — particularly someone I considered a friend — uncomfortable.” The snowboarder also expressed his remorse over the situation when he appeared on the Today as he spoke with co-anchors Hoda Kotb and Savannah Guthrie. He told the co-hosts, "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."
When Guthrie asked if there was anything he learned as a result of the experience, he noted, "I've grown as a person over the years." He went on to say, "Every experience in my life, I feel like it's taught me a lesson. And I definitely feel like I am a much more changed person than I was when I was younger."
White's comments to the NYT and on Today are a far cry from his statements at the press conference, which were, undeniably, an incredibly poor choice of words. After the press conference, and as previously noted, the athlete came under immediate fire for referring the the serious allegations as "gossip".
At the conference, Matt Gutman, an ABC News correspondent, asked the snowboarder about the sexual harassment allegations from Lena Zawaideh that resurfaced. And, after being interrupted by White on his "Lena" pronunciation, continued to ask, "Are you concerned that they're going to tarnish your legacy?" White responded with:
"Um, you know, honestly, here to talk about the Olympics. Not, you know, gossip. So, um. But, uh, I don't think so. I am who I am, and I'm proud of who I am, and my friends, you know, love me and vouch for me. And I think that stands on its own."
The athlete's accuser, Zawaideh, had something to say about White referring to the allegations as "gossip." Per TMZ, she stated, through her lawyer Lawrance Bohm, that she was displeased to see the case referred to in such a manner. She also, quite importantly, highlighted how damaging such language is when used in reference to sexual harassment. Her lawyer stated, "Before Mr. White made his comments, [Lena] believed that this matter was in the past and she was happy to put the situation behind her ... Unfortunately, by his recent comments and conduct, Mr. White has minimized the problem of sexual harassment in this country."
While many publications have been mum on the subject of White's past (including NBC, the official network for the Olympics, who has instead focused on White's redemption arc), this situation has now resurfaced in the media zeitgeist and can't be ignored. In 2016, TMZ reported that Zawaideh, who was a drummer in the snowboarder's Bad Things band, accused the athlete of sexual harassment.
She alleged that he had sent her sexually explicit messages and sexually disturbing videos. Zawaideh also alleged that White tried to kiss her in in 2010, an advancement that she refused. White previously admitted to sending the drummer some sexually explicit messages, but adamantly denied the rest of her accusations by calling them "bogus." The case was eventually settled in May 2017, according to TMZ.
As of right now, White has yet to comment any further on the situation following his NYT and Today statements.