An on-air NBC personality has gotten himself embroiled in a controversy. USA Today reports that the Peacock Network’s figure skating analyst, Johnny Weir, admitted he made a mistake by insulting gay rights activists during a recent appearance.
"Before Weir spoke at a Columbia University forum on the role of the athlete on Monday night, Queer Nation, an LGBT rights group, protested outside the event," the story reports. "During the Q&A period that followed, Weir referred to the activists as ‘idiots like the ones outside tonight, dumping vodka in the street.’
"On Tuesday he issued a mea culpa in his column for the Falls Church News-Press. He said he was defensive because he’s been dealing with ‘an unsafe fan situation’ that has put him ‘on high alert and high self-protection mode.’"
Weir added in his column: "However, I realized that there is no excuse to hurl insults at those who oppose you, or those who think differently than you and as a believer in free will and free speech, I allowed my own fear and emotion to get the better of me and for a moment I became a hypocrite."
Much of the controversy stems from Weir’s position on Russia’s controversial anti-gay laws.
"A self-described Russophile, Weir has been criticized by gay rights groups for minimizing the impact of the legislation. Weir has deep love of the country. Throughout his career, he frequently wore Russian national team gear. His close friend is the nation’s biggest figure skating star, Evgeni Plushenko," USA Today reports. "Weir is also married to Victor Voronov, whose parents grew up in the former Soviet Union."
Weir also wrote: “I have been defending athlete’s rights to compete in Sochi, despite Russia’s anti-LGBT laws, and have publicly opposed a boycott. This is an issue that is very heated for many LGBT activists who want to protect and save the Russian LGBT community, and I whole-heartedly applaud their bravery.”