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Bethenny Frankel: Drowning in Lies While “Lost” at Sea

by Ilana Angel

October 5, 2011 | 11:49 pm

Tim Russell

I used to think Bethenny Frankel was funny.  She was obnoxious and over the top, but had enough truly funny moments on the first season of the Real Housewives of New York that I was able to overlook the annoying parts of her.  Over the past three years however, I have lost respect for her.

Lost respect may not be the right term, as I never really had any respect for her.  Even though I did not like her, I could applaud her success, as it was impressive.  Well it was impressive, until we learned more about her and discovered nothing Bethenny says comes from a place of truth.

I have written about her a lot.  It annoys me that so many young women idolize her, and buy her crap products. She is not a role model. She is a child of wealth and privilege, who has a crazy sense of entitlement, no respect for the legacy of her father, and a pathological need to lie and be famous.

Last week when Bethenny told her story of being “lost at sea”, I knew it was a joke.  The story made no sense.  Without any deep research, I have discovered her claims were more far-fetched than I could have imagined. With a little reading, and one phone call, I managed to unravel her story.

Tim Russell, the man who was called out to Bethenny’s boat, called me and we talked about it.  He read a blog I wrote about Bethenny’s story and he got in touch to help set the record straight.  We spoke yesterday and he was forthcoming, honest and had no agenda, other than to tell the truth.

Mr. Russell has worked on the water for 40 years.  He possesses an easy and open personality, and an awesome accent.  His wife is a schoolteacher, and they are real people who work hard to make a living. They are authentic and I feel bad for him that he is caught up in this mess.

It’s fascinating that all of her claims are easily disputed because it’s all public record.  That there is not a massive outcry from her fans demanding to know why she has likely misled them is interesting.  Stop drinking the Kool-Aid!  It is laced with Sodium Benzoate.

Bethenny claims they were lost at sea with no GPS, but when the therapist called Tim to help, he told them his exact coordinates, which he read off of the GPS system.  They did call the Coast Guard, and the USCG suggested he call a tow company because there was no danger.

The Coast Guard confirmed the GPS was working and the boat was not in distress, so they suggested they call a tow company as there was no need for them to assist.  It was Bethenny’s therapist who called Mr. Russell, not the USCG.  It was 5:00 am when he got the call.

Mr. Russell explained that his rate was $250 an hour, which is his standard, offseason, nighttime rate and since it was still dark, the nighttime rate applied.  When he realized the boat was fine, he explained they did not need him and could come in on their own as the boat was fully functioning.

The therapist insisted they needed help, and said they would pay him what he wanted.  Mr. Russell thought it was bizarre, and did not know what was going on, but did not want to ignore the call incase there was an issue so he went out to get them.  His wife went along and they headed out.

When Tim got there, he saw that the boat was fine.  There were 9 people on the boat.  Bethenny, Jason, the therapist, and a Bravo film crew of 6.  They did not need a tow as the boat was fine.  They simply followed Tim and his wife back to the shore with no towing and a functioning GPS.

There was no reason for help to be called.  The Coast Guard did not assist, as there was nothing for them to do.  Tim went out because he respects the water, and was unsure of the problem.  Bethenny wasted everyone’s time, mocked the USCG, and belittled Tim Russell.

Bethenny came back to shore in the same boat she went out on.  The only way they could have gotten lost would have been captain error, but the therapist has been sailing for 30 years and can not only use the GPS, but can read charts, so there is no way they were lost.  If it it was all not faked, it was something short of “reality.”

Bethenny claims says she was out in sea for 21 hours, but does not mention it’s because they sat around for hours killing time, to help their story.  Bethenny says Jason was going to cook, but they only brought beans.  Bethenny has dug a hole she will never get out of.

Everything is documented, including the Coast Guard telling them to call a tow company.  In fact, Tim was not even the first company called.  Another boat refused to go get them, as there was no emergency. Tim went because he is a decent guy and wanted to make sure everyone was okay.

Tim was annoyed they wasted his time, and when they got back to shore, he saw it was a joke.  Bethenny got out of the boat and kissed the dock, but only after the crew got out of the boat to get the shot.  It was faked for her reality show.  None of it was real and everyone was fine.

Bethenny put this man’s safety, and professional reputation on the line.  When they started filming, Tim did not know what was going on.  The therapist told him Bethenny was a television star and just sold her company for $120 million dollars.  He was annoyed Tim did not know.

When I asked Tim about the tip stories in the press, he let me know he was not a waitress and did not work for tips.  He never received a tip, neither did the boat owner.  Bethenny told Ellen she tipped him $2800 dollars.  Not true.  Furthermore, Tim never went to the press to complain.

When talking to a reporter, he was trying to make the point that Bethenny was not honest.  He said if someone truly thought they could die, and were a millionaire, wouldn’t they say thank you, or publically acknowledge who saved her?  Wouldn’t she give a tip?

He felt it was all for show when she went on Ellen and started to talk about him. She made it look like he complained about a tip, when really she put him and his livelihood in jeopardy by using him for her fake reality.  He was kind, but made to look like a putz.

I asked Tim if he had heard Bethenny said she would sleep with him as a tip.  He let me know he would rather be shipwrecked.  This is a hardworking man who has made his living on the ocean for 40 years.  His father and grandfather were both maritime men.

In my opinion, Bethenny has a tenuous relationship to the truth.  She has made claims about her childhood, her parents, her career, her love life, her marriage, and her little boat trip.  She has built a house of half-truths and it’s all going to come crashing down.  It’s a shame she has to hurt innocent people like Tim along the way.

Tim Russell is a sweet man and I liked him.  He and his wife are good people and I hope the cloud Bethenny has placed over them passes quickly.  In the end he will have the last laugh because her story will be held up to scrutiny, he’ll have a good story, and Bethenny will lose in the end.

To be clear, Tim is not some some poor sap who got screwed over by the Bethenny machine.  He’s just a guy, who did his job, and never gave it a second thought.  When she went to the press and distorted the facts of what happened, he wanted to set the record straight. 

Having spoken to him, this is my two cents on the story, and he may not like my perspective either.  In the end he was there and I have told him if he wants to write the story in his own words, I will post it.  The bottom line is that no matter who tells the story, Bethenny’s version is dubious.

Bethenny has built an empire on hyperbole.  The truth is fragile, and when you don’t attend to it, it shatters. It’s just a matter of time, and while we wait to see what happens, I will continue to call her out, pass on the Kool-Aid, and give a voice to those who are keeping it real.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Ilana Angel writes two blogs for JewishJournal.com. KEEPING THE FAITH is about her worldview as a single Jewish mother, and KEEPING IT REAL is all about reality television....

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