CBS Defends Handling of ‘Survivor’ Controversy

Apr 14, 2017  •  Post A Comment

With some observers criticizing CBS’s decision to air a segment on its “Survivor” reality show in which one of the contestants outed a fellow competitor as transgender, the network is defending the decision.

As we reported previously, CBS, which anticipated fallout from the incident, worked with the Transgender Media Program of the LGBT rights group GLAAD and with Zeke Smith, the contestant who was outed, in the months since the segment was taped.

On Thursday the network issued a statement about the controversy, saying: “After the tribal council scene in last night’s ‘Survivor’ was filmed, we consulted with Zeke Smith and with GLAAD in advance of the broadcast, including the issue of how Zeke would tell his story after the episode aired. This is his second consecutive season on ‘Survivor.’ From his first season through the current edition, we have always been guided by the principle that this is his story to tell, and it remains so.”

The statement adds: “We support how Jeff Probst and the producers handled a very sensitive situation and marvel at the grace Zeke exhibited under extraordinary circumstances. We have also respect for how Jeff Varner has expressed remorse for his mistake, both in the episode and in his subsequent dialogue with the media. In the end, we believe this episode, accompanied by Zeke’s own remarkable writing and speaking on the subject, has provided an unexpected but important dialogue about acceptance and treating transgender people with respect.”

CBS posted video of the controversial tribal council segment from Wednesday’s show, which you can watch by clicking here.


  1. THIS is how Tribal Council’s should work people !!!

  2. I’ve been watching Survivor with family members since its extraordinary first episode (voting someone off an island, wow!).
    The latest episode was jaw dropping, a remarkable telecast. My personal regards to Zeke, an amazing man.
    I think CBS handled it very well. The show also reminded viewers that the series can still surprise and pack a wallop.

  3. Well, it is “reality” television and if that is what really happened then there is no controversy.

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