|Photographers at the Olympics, where media scrutiny is huge. |
Photo by Harry How/Getty Images
On Aug. 11, the Daily Beast published an article by Nico Hines originally headlined: "I Got Three Grindr Dates in an Hour in the Olympic Village." That night, the website pulled the story after an international outcry erupted about outing closeted athletes and its editors said they screwed up. Now, 11 weeks later, the site has still not explained how the story came to be published and Hines has still not apologized.
The Daily Beast is not returning emails on this issue and Hines has not tweeted or written anything since the article appeared. It seems as if the Daily Beast hopes the story will go away and people will forget, but that's not happening.
People are pissed for a good reason — Hines, who is straight, posed as a gay man on Grindr and connected with closeted gay athletes in Rio's Olympic village. His first version of the article contained enough personal information about some gay athletes that they could be identified (A Slate writer said he could ID five). By Hines' admission, some of these athletes were from countries where being gay is illegal, putting them at risk should they be identified. It's the nightmare of any LGBT person who is not yet able to come out.
The article was journalistic malpractice of the highest order. Who thought this was a good idea? Which editor OKd the idea? Which editor(s) read the first version and OKd it for publication? Were any LGBT Daily Beast editorial staff consulted before the story ran? Why did the story stay up the entire day, with only modest changes and a different headline? Why has the Daily Beast not been transparent about any investigation? What has happened to Hines — was he suspended? fired? He is still listed on the website as its London editor, though he has not written any story since the Grindr one was spiked.
The story was a dangerously clumsy attempt at being edgy, sexy and getting page views. I am convinced neither Hines nor the Daily Beast sought to out gay Olympians., yet they were collectively clueless and insensitive to the ramifications of the article and what it means to be an LGBT person. They owe everyone an explanation, and in Hines' case, a detailed apology. People are not going to forget this (check out Twitter as an example).
To give a sense of how unresponsive the Daily Beast has been in answering questions, below are seven emails — all unanswered — one man has sent to the editors or Hines since the Grindr story appeared:
Why are you not firing this guy or refusing to contract with him re his grinder story in Rio? Who are his bosses? Who are their bosses? What is their contact info? When some athlete gets killed or beaten because of this what are you going to do help? What specific actions have you taken to help each athlete you outed with the damage you have caused? Are you going to pay for counseling? What happens when said athlete can't go home or heaven forbid commits suicide? Really serious about getting answers about how you plan to help. Would like to see you publish answers to my questions? Apology and retracting the article is not enough here. In this time of division and hate mongering I would have expected more from your organization. Where were your editors?
Folks. Can you please publish without any identifying facts about any athlete what you are doing to help the athletes you recently outed? The apology after the first "brush off" was a start. Thank-you. Now how are you financially and emotionally supporting the athletes who may not feel comfortable returning home or worse yet may be physically harmed or harm themselves? You accurately took collective blame for a huge screw up. You now have an opportunity and the resources to right a wrong and really make a difference. Can you please share with us your action plan on actually helping these people and insuring such a mistake will never be made again?
Can anything be done to make sure the Daily Beast is held financially responsible to the athletes they may have outed? I have repeatedly asked these questions to the Daily Beast and its parent company and all I get is silence. Are there any thoughts about revoking their press rights in the future? I really think an apology is not enough here. They have failed to issue specific plans on how this mistake will not be repeated in the future. How can they be held accountable?
I sent the attached e-mail some time ago to you and the Daily Beast. I have yet to receive a response. I grow more concern as time passes with no response. I look forward to hearing from you.
Mr. HinesI have made numerous inquiries about how The Daily Beast intends to help the athletes affected by your Rio Grinder article. Your company has taken collective blame but I have found your e-mail address and wanted to appeal to you directly. I don't wish to vilify you. I just believe in light of your recent mistake you are in a unique position to help people in addition to the athletes directly involved. I am a 56 year old gay man. I came out at 34. My journey to come out when I did took me all 34 years. Each gay person has their own path and to have that path shortened by someone else can be truly devastating. Luckily I came out on my own timetable and in a country where my personal safety was not an issue.I don't fault you for curiosity about hookup sites. I just wish you had not chosen to give identifying details about the individuals involved. This is where I find you culpable. I choose to believe this was done from ignorance or lack of forethought and not from malice. Your actions may have enormous consequences for the athletes involved. I find our society is fascinated by a persons missteps in life rather than their achievements. I can't argue that what the folks were doing was one of their best choices if they were closeted but specifically identifying them rather than describing their behavior is something I hope you will choose to avoid in the future. I think you as a straight person have every right to examine and question gay life and behavior. I am sorry people are so angry at you. I confess I am quite angry and hurt myself.I find it interesting you have chosen to hide since your article. I urge you not to do so as this wound will only fester. The gay community is quite patient and has a long memory. I hope you will choose to step forward and own your mistake, make sure your company looks after the individuals harmed and "do better" as stated in the second apology issued by your company. I also hope that this mistake can be the start of new procedures and internal safeguards within your company so that things like this never happen again.I wish you well and await your next steps in dealing with this opportunity.
EditorsI tend to be more and more amazed at the lack of a response to my questions and e-mails raised about the Nico Hines Grinder story. I have repeatedly asked what is actually being done for the athletes you have harmed with this story. I have repeatedly asked what editorial safeguards have been put into place following this story so things of this nature will not happen again. Mr. Hines has gone into hiding and you have obviously placed your heads in the sand. You with your silence have now become one of the bullies you have railed against. I had hoped with your second apology you would act on your words and by your actions be a voice for change. Everybody make mistakes. It is how you act or don't act in rectifying those mistakes that you will be remembered. Please step forward and show us all a path for change.
Folks. Your silence is deafening. Why won't you respond. I will not go away. Why are you not stepping forward to right your mistakes? You can be such a powerful voice for change. Where are you?
Where are you? That’s a question we all want an answer to.