Something very strange happened between Us Weekly and the Kardashian/Jenners this week: On Thursday, the magazine was forced to issue an apology and retraction after publishing apparently fake quotes from 19-year-old Kendall Jenner about her father, Bruce Jenner’s, reported transition.
The retraction was odd for several reasons. The Kardashians and Us Weekly have had a close, mutually beneficial relationship for years — the reality show dynasty gives editors exclusive pieces of news and in return gets prime placement in the magazine. And it’s very rare to see any tabloid not only apologize for a story but delete the entire thing. The original story is gone from the Us Weekly site. (Though you can see a cached version here.)
It started on Wednesday when an odd story cropped up on the site titled “Kendall Jenner Breaks Silence on Bruce Jenner’s Transition: ‘I Will Always Love My Dad,'” touted as an exclusive. That headline itself was nothing out of the ordinary: Like multiple tabloids close with the Kardashians, Us Weekly has been carefully chronicling that Bruce is planning to publicly come out as transgender. The tabloid was the first publication to have a cover story on the topic. Just this week, People Magazine’s cover reports how the family is dealing with his transition.
But what struck many as unusual were the quotes, allegedly made by Kendall while backstage at the Justin Bieber Comedy Central roast.
“I love my dad. He’s always been there for me and my sisters,” the site quoted Kendall as saying. “He’s a wonderful man. And just because he’s changing shoes now, so to speak, doesn’t make him less wonderful. I will always love my dad, whether he’s a man or a woman.”
Considering the family has not officially commented on the reports about Bruce’s transition yet, that casual “changing shoes” line seemed wildly out of character for such a publicity-savvy family. The most anyone has said so far is Kim Kardashian, who delicately alluded in a January interview to Bruce’s “journey.” A few hours after the Us Weekly story published (with a byline as just “US Weekly Staff”), Kendall started tweeting that the quotes were completely made up.
As Kendall’s tweets made the rounds, the pressure around the story intensified. On Thursday afternoon, Us released an extensive statement explaining that the quotes were from a freelance reporter who still stands by the interview — but the mag’s editors “have concerns about the veracity of this interview and the circumstances under which it was obtained.”
On Wednesday, March 18, Us Weekly published on UsMagazine.com an interview with model and reality star Kendall Jenner entitled “Kendall Jenner Breaks Silence on Bruce Jenner’s Transition: ‘I Will Always Love My Dad.'” The interview was allegedly conducted by an independent freelance journalist at the Saturday, March 14, taping of Comedy Central’s roast of Justin Bieber in Los Angeles. When Ms. Jenner denied, via Twitter, that the interview took place, Us Weekly immediately reached out to the freelance reporter. He stood by the interview, and continues to maintain that the quotes are accurate. However, after attempting to reconfirm his account, editors of Us have concerns about the veracity of this interview and the circumstances under which it was obtained. We would like to retract the story entirely and have removed it from our website. We sincerely apologize to Ms. Jenner and her family.
No reaction from the Kardashians yet.