The Daily Mail has been lambasted by the Australian Press Council over the publication of intrusive shirtless photos of Bachelor host Osher Günsberg.
In September last year the tabloid publication published three photographs of Günsberg in an article headlined “The Bachelor host Osher Günsberg shows of his ‘Bali belly’ as he goes shirtless while filming finale of reality TV show on Indonesian island“.
The article referred to Günsberg as never [having] a hair out of place”, but who “showed a very different side of himself” and “revealed his portly frame and unkempt hair”.
Mail showed Gunsberg putting on wetsuit
Günsberg complained to the Press Council over the articles, arguing that while he is a reality TV host, he has never allowed photos to be taken of him shirtless. He told the Press Council he had experienced mental illness for a long time and weight gain was a side effect of the medication for the illness.
Günsberg told the press watchdog when he saw the article, including the three photographs and the “Bali belly” heading, he was caught unaware and felt shamed and bullied because of weight gain and because he was on medication which caused that gain.
He argued the article was not fair and balanced and should have asked for his comment before publication with the article omitting key facts about his circumstances and was an unreasonable intrusion on his privacy.
Günsberg said he spoke out about the article on a radio program he co-hosts but did not contact the publication directly to complain about the article and did not want to have alterations to it or a right of reply to the article. Günsberg said this was because it would attract more attention to the story, reward the publication for its article and allow the publication to make further comment.
The Daily Mail defended the article, telling the Press Council it was “light-hearted and primarily focused on the photographs” while the reference to “Bali belly” was “a pun based on his being in Bali and showing his belly, and was not intended as an insult”.
The publication rejected Günsberg’s allegation the article was unfair and not balanced and as the article included previous comments by Günsberg about his mental health and weight concerns, the Daily Mail did not consider it necessary to seek comment.
It defended it’s coverage of Günsberg’s activities in Bali arguing he is a public figure with a significant TV presence and social media following.
The Daily Mail said the pictures of Günsberg were not commissioned by it but supplied unsolicited by a reputable picture agency.
The publisher said it gave careful consideration to whether to publish the photographs and noted there was no private activity taking place on the beach, and one of the photographs showed the complainant apparently surveying the beach shirtless.
It said the complainant had not raised any concerns with it before making the complaint to the Council, and it was willing to make some changes to the article.
The Press Council rejected Günsberg’s complaint the article was not balanced as The Daily Mail had included publicly made comments from the reality TV host about his weight concerns.
However, it was the Council’s view that despite Günsberg being a public figure, he has not forfeited his right to privacy altogether.
It was the Council’s view that as the subject matter of the article did not relate to Günsberg’s public activities, there was no public interest to justify such an intrusion of his privacy.
The Council considers Günsberg’s history of mental illness and weight gain are in the public domain but by referring to “Bali belly”, and using the photographs in the manner it did, the article went beyond those matters to ridicule the consequences of his mental illness medication and was likely to cause substantial offence or distress to the complainant for concerns he acknowledged.
The Council concluded the Daily Mail failed to take reasonable steps to avoid causing offence, distress or prejudice to the complainant, without a justifying public interest.