Matthew Mitcham, an Austrailian diver, received a gold medal in what many were calling a come-from-behind victory at the games in Bejing. Due to anxiety and depression, he almost did not compete in the games, and only when convinced by his coach he began to train. On top of that, he came out as gay only 6 months prior to the games, and upset China’s dominance in the sport.
NBC didn’t find any of this Olympic heroism to be newsworthy enough, and neglected any coverage of the ceremony or his personal story of strife.
While the issue has been addressed and debated by various blogs and writers, until we contacted NBC they were unaware of the controversy. “I’m not aware of any controversy,” said Hughes. “Yours is the first call.”
When asked why at no point during the coverage did NBC mention Mitcham was gay or that his partner was in the stands, Hughes said, “In virtually every case, we don’t discuss an athlete’s sexual orientation.”
When it was pointed out that in fact the network does exactly that by telling viewers about Olympic athletes’ various spouses, boyfriends, girlfriends, and even in one case a heterosexual “love triangle” Hughes responded, “Not in every case. Not every athlete has a personal discussion. I could show you 500 athletes we didn’t show. We don’t show everyone. We don’t show every ceremony.”
NBC Olympic’s president, Gary Zenkel, responded to AfterElton with this:
“We regret that we missed the opportunity to tell Matthew Mitcham’s story. We apologize for this unintentional omission.”
Tyra/Ellen/Oprah… get on it! You too, Dr. Phil