UPDATED at 7 p.m. PT:
The Daily Beast has now taken down the story and replaced it with an editor’s note that says the site “took an unprecedented but necessary step” by removing the article.
“The Daily Beast does not do this lightly. As shared in our editor’s note earlier today, we initially thought swift removal of any identifying characteristics and better clarification of our intent was the adequate way to address this. Our initial reaction was that the entire removal of the piece was not necessary. We were wrong. We’re sorry,” the apology continues. Read the full Note From the Editors here.
Just when it seemed impossible, journalism may have reached a new low.
The Daily Beast is under fire on Thursday after one of its straight writers lured gay (and closeted) athletes using dating apps for no apparent reason other than to shame them.
TDB’s latest gem, “The Other Olympic Sport in Rio: Swiping,” is the brainchild of straight, married writer Nico Hines, who thought outing Olympic athletes (some from “notoriously homophobic countries”) was somehow news.
A Slate column titled “This Daily Beast Grindr Stunt Is Sleazy, Dangerous, and Wildly Unethical” slammed TDB, calling it a “an exceedingly gross and bizarre article” and an “astoundingly creepy exercise in Grindr-baiting.”
Vox also weighed in with this headline: “The Daily Beast tried to prove Olympians like sex, but instead may have outed gay athletes.”
Gay activists called the article “despicable.”
“The Daily Beast should be embarrassed at this piece of homophobic trash and try swiping on some ethical journalism standards than playing games on Grindr,” prominent gay activist Danielle Moodie-Mills, who’s done consulting for GLAAD, told TheWrap.
You may want to get the hot water running in your shower before reading. This part is especially creepy:
“Perhaps the question most people have is: How do the rest of us get an invite? Can an Average Joe join the bacchanalia?
After 60 minutes in the Olympic Village on Tuesday evening, I’m surprised to say that the answer is ‘yes.
Then, in his infinite wisdom, Hines decided to leave just enough clues so that anyone with an internet connection could figure who these athletes are. We won’t add them to this story, but suffice it say it didn’t take long for some to figure it out.
Slate, rightly pointed out that,”With his dubious premise established, Hines proceeds to out athlete after athlete, providing enough information about each Olympian he encounters for anyone with basic Google skills to uncover their identities. (After several minutes of Googling, I surmised the identities of five of the gay athletes Hines described.) I’m not going to repeat his descriptions, because — as Hines himself acknowledges! — some of them live in ‘notoriously homophobic’ countries and remain closeted at home.”
Congrats on the big scoop. Yes, some Olympic athletes are gay and — gasp — like to have sex in their spare time. Also, water is wet.
But before you get all judgy, Hines had this to say in his defense:
“For the record, I didn’t lie to anyone or pretend to be someone I wasn’t — unless you count being on Grindr in the first place — since I’m straight, with a wife and child. I used my own picture (just of my face…) and confessed to being a journalist as soon as anyone asked who I was.”
Hey Daily Beast, if you’re that desperate for clicks, here’s a follow-up idea: “Straight Writers Who Have No Clue About Human Decency.” We’re thinking 500 words. Just interview people in your newsroom, easy breezy!
On a more serious note, one has to wonder how this piece got through TDB’s editors without being flagged. We asked their PR people, but so far no cigar. The site did, however, include an editor’s note by Editor in Chief, John Avlon, at the bottom of the original story, acknowledging the backlash:
“A number of readers complained to The Daily Beast after the publication of the original iteration of this story. We take such complaints seriously because a central part of The Daily Beast’s mission is to fight for full equality and equal treatment for LGBT people around the world. Publishing an article that in any way could be seen as homophobic is contrary to our mission.
There was legitimate concern that the original version of this story might out gay male athletes, even by implication, or compromise their safety. This was never our reporter’s intention, of course. No names were ever used and some of the profiles described were of straight women. But there was a concern that even mentioning the home nation of some gay athletes could compromise their safety. We apologize for potentially jeopardizing that safety in any way. As a result, we have removed all descriptions of the men and women’s profiles that we previously described.
The concept for the piece was to see how dating and hook-up apps were being used in Rio by athletes. It just so happened that Nico had many more responses on Grindr than apps that cater mostly to straight people, and so he wrote about that. Had he received straight invitations, he would have written about those. He never claimed to be anyone he was not, did not offer anything to anyone, and immediately admitted that he was a journalist whenever he was asked who he was.
Some readers have read Nico as mocking or sex-shaming those on Grindr. We do not feel he did this in any way. But it’s up to us to deliver stories that are so clear, they can’t be misinterpreted–and we clearly fell short of that standard in this article.
Accordingly, we have made some editorial changes to the article, responding to readers’ concerns, and are again sorry for any upset the original version of this piece inspired.”
Editor’s note: the author of this post is a former Daily Beast contributor.