It's amazing that people still think they get a do-over on the Internet. Weight-loss consultant Renee Stephens blamed her husband's boorish behavior on ABC's Wife Swap on "stress" — then unpublished her pseudo-apology.
Ha! Like anything's ever deleted on the Internet.
If you didn't catch the Wife Swap episode in question, which aired two weeks ago, it helps to understand that Stephens and her husband, British-born venture capitalist Stephen Fowler, went beyond the normal fish-out-of-water misunderstandings highlighted in the show. Instead, they inflicted every imaginable form of San Francisco snobbery, parading their education, environmentalism, and wealth before the dumbfounded Missouri couple, Gayla and Alan Long, with whom they traded families.
A week ago, Stephens published and deleted her first apology online. Two days later, she posted a fuller, more contrite apology, where she unabashedly condemned the relentless insults her husband laid on Gayla Long and the rest of the known universe.
Unabashedly condemning her husband? Why, that's something that Stephens said she would only do in private in her first apology She also posted on a Yahoo Groups message board, whence a tipster obtained it. (Both are posted below.)
In the first apology, Stephens relates how "sorry" her husband is-but never actually apologizes herself, for her statements or her husband's. She promises "behind the scenes information" and blames the episode's reception on how it was "edited" and Fowler's misbehavior on "stress." And, intriguingly, she says that her husband only agreed to do the show to support her. Reading between the lines, that suggests Stephens was hoping to promote her weight-loss business on ABC, and was unhappy with how things turned out.
Could ABC have complained that such disclosures violated the agreement she signed when she agreed to do the show? Impossible to say, but in her second apology, she made no complaints about the show's editing and says she was "utterly appalled" by her husband's "aggressively cruel and insulting" behavior, and doesn't mention his reluctance to participate.
The first apology:
I just wanted to express my deepest heartfelt gratitude to all of you for your support after the show last night. I can hardly express how much it means to me.
I would like to offer some behind the scenes information that might help as well. We had not seen the episode before Friday and had no idea how it would be edited.
First and foremost, my husband very much regrets how he behaved during the swap. He is sorry for how he treated Gayla, he is sorry for insulting middle America, and sorry about the whole thing.
He did not want to do the show but did it only to support me, but the stress of it all got to be too much for him, and he had some extremely bad moments, and all on film. So, it's like having your worst faults, and your worst behavior at your weakest moments put together into a show and all of the redeeming bits excluded from that show. For the record, he is a dedicated, loving, caring father and husband, has a great self-depricating sense of humor. He never laughs so hard as when he is laughing at himself. None of this made it to the the show.
Also, I could say nothing on TV. The last thing on earth I would do was go on film criticizing my husband, life partner, and father of my children in front of millions of people, especially when the ONLY reason he was there was to support me. That's not who I am. If I had something to say, I would say it in private.
Regarding the proud to be an American conversation. That was highly edited. For the record, I am proud of things that I have done, not things over which I had no control. I was extremely fortunate to be born American, but I didn't chose it, it's just how it happened. I do, however, greatly respect and identify with many American values, and love the way of life. I have lived in many countries and I chose to live in the US because I think it's the best place in the world for me to live. I LOVE living here. The opportunities here are amazing. The culture respects finding and pursuing your dreams, which to me is one of the most rewarding things in life. And free speech has it's upside too, most of the time!
My husband feels the same way about wanting to live in the US. That's why he chose to become an American citizen.
Know, as I think you do, that I have deep compassion for those stuggling with their weight. I struggled, and have dedicated my life to ending that struggle. With your support I can continue to do that. I hope that it's possible.
I am not checking email at the moment, but please know how much your support means to me. It is a great treasure that I am surrounding myself with right now.
With Love and Light,
The second apology:
Dear Clients, Colleagues, Friends and the interested public.
I deeply appreciate the compassionate outpouring of support many of you have shown as I struggle through this most difficult time.
Now that I have had a few days to gather the courage, I would like to share with you where I truly stand. I too am utterly appalled by my husband's behavior during the swap. I had not seen the footage until Friday night, so didn't fully know how incredibly badly he had behaved until I saw it on national TV. I knew he was not proud of his behavior and that he had many misgivings. I did not know he had been aggressively cruel and insulting on so many levels. This has been impossible for me to comprehend.
While I completely condemn his behavior I feel confused because he has been a loving and dedicated husband and father for many years. This in no way can rationalize his inexcusable behavior. It is simply an explanation of why it has taken me this long to make a statement. I have asked Stephen to get professional help.
Finally, I know that I created offense as well. When I made the statement about the parents not having advanced degrees, I was responding to direct and probing questions from the director about what level of education I thought the Long's had. I certainly don't think people need college degrees to live intelligent and valuable lives, and was not passing any kind of judgment with my comment. My edited comment regarding being an American was actually an acknowledgement that being born here isn't enough of a reason to be proud. We each need to make meaningful contributions that we are proud of and acknowledge other's contributions as well. We create community and we try to live honorably and that is what makes us proud but it's not our birthright. I am grateful to be a part of this country.
Again, thank you for your heartfelt comments.