Russell Hantz’s e-mail messages to Jim Early published

Russell Hantz has firmly denied leaking information about his first two seasons of Survivor, but now the person he leaked to has sold e.mail message evidence to TMZ.

TMZ published seven e.mail messages from Russell to Jim Early, which were sent between “hantztankering” (the name of Russell’s company) to “thegamesurvivor” (an alias of Jim Early) in late September and early October 2009. They aren’t very conversational, as Russell often replies in short, error-ridden phrases to long passages of speculation and/or information from Early. (TMZ didn’t bother to mention the original story or attribute it to The Daily Beast, but because they are awful people and awful journalists, they did manage to cobble together an exclusive graphic for the messages, even though I already previously reported on one of them.)

Of those messages, I saw one of these as part of my story on the lawsuit that revealed Russell was leaking information, and that’s the only one in which Russell reveals elimination details, confirming that the boot order is “Russell first, then Ashley.” (Early forward to me another message, one that’s not published here, that he forwarded to the attorney representing Mark Burnett’s DJB, Inc.) In another message, Russell indicates that a full boot list is incorrect, and in others, gives details about Russell Swan’s fainting during a challenge.

Russell didn’t respond to a request for a comment when I wrote the original story for The Daily Beast, but he’s been vocal recently in the publicity leading up the season premiere of Survivor Redemption Island. The lawsuit and its dismissal provided hard evidence of Russell’s guilt–it was dismissed when Early gave up Russell–but these messages firmly underline it. Will their publication change CBS’ nonchalant attitude? Or convince Russell’s die-hard fans? Probably not.

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.