Reality Steve, Bachelor producers settle lawsuit, but seem to disagree on a key detail

ABC settled its lawsuit with Steve Carbone, publisher of RealitySteve.com, and he has both admitted to offering The Bachelor cast members money and agreed to never again “initiate” contact with cast members.

Announcing that the lawsuit had been settled, Warner Bros. said in a statement released to The Hollywood Reporter,

“We have resolved our dispute with Reality Steve and are pleased he has agreed to have no further contact whatsoever with any of the cast, crew or employees of The Bachelor.”

But that’s not quite what Steve says in his response, which suggests that the only prohibition is against him making first contact:

“On June 1, 2012, the producers of The Bachelor Series finally dismissed their frivolous lawsuit against me. However, to get the suit dismissed, I had to agree to state on this website that neither I, nor Reality Steve, LLC would ‘initiate’ contact, directly or Indirectly, with any Cast, Crew, and/or other Employees of the Bachelor concerning any non-public details of the Bachelor series.”

That’s a very small but key difference: “no further contact whatsoever” and not being the one to “initiate contact.” Also in the lengthy and rambling blog post (does he write any other kind?), Steve admits to offering cast members cash for information, but says it was a one-time only thing. He writes:

“Until the end of time, myself, Jaclyn, Casey S, and Emily will tell you til we’re blue in the face that neither of them ever gave me any spoilers about their season. They were too scared to get in trouble. And even after offering monetary compensation to them, they still didn’t tell me a thing. Was there anything illegal about offering money for information? No. Was it a dumb decision on my part? Seven months later and with a fat legal bill I have hanging over my head, I’d say the answer to that would be ‘yes.’ I was coming off a successful and profitable year on my website and I just figured ‘Why not just go directly to one of the contestants and see if they’ll tell me something if I offer them money?’ It was a stupid, dumb, idiotic move on my part that ended up backfiring. I’d never done it before, and I’ll never do it again.”

That is similar to what his lawyer wrote, arguing that he didn’t receive information. But is it illegal to offer money for information? It may be, when it involves “tortious interference” with a contract.

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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.