Quick summary of the story before we get to analyzing the apology: On Thursday morning, The Daily Beast put up a story in which a straight, married journalist named Nico Hines used mobile dating apps to see if he could hook up with athletes in Rio. (The original URL for the piece ended in “i-got-three-grindr-dates-in-an-hour-in-the-olympic-village” — mazel tov to you, you self-congratulatory troll, and rest assured that the REST of the URL, “which-means-three-dudes-apparently-wanted-to-hook-up-with-me-before-learning-my-true-identity-as-a-sensationalist-entitled-lying-entrapping-douchecanoe” may be invisible, but WE CAN SEE IT.) Hines could have written about women looking to play, which ALSO OCCURS in an emotionally wound up location filled with young healthy humans in peak condition, but naw, he sniggeringly focused on dudes seeking dudes. He also provided a huge amount of identifying detail, enough so that a Slate journalist identified five of his victims in a few minutes of Googling. And as we know, once it’s on the Internet, it’s forever. Many gay athletes from homophobic countries are closeted for a reason. They and their families could be punished; they could lose their careers; they could go to jail or be assaulted or worse.
The Daily Beast took a few cracks at an apology. All of them suck. LET’S DIVE IN.
First the publication removed identifying details about the athletes that Hines had coyly provided, pointed that out, and made soothing noises about “we hear you, Internet — hurting people was never our intention!” and “we love our LGBT readers!” and “sorry if we unintentionally did badness!” But there was never any acknowledgment that this piece had no journalistic value whatsoever, and existed purely an exercise in voyeurism. (I’m not a big Wayback Machine user or Internet-clueful individual, but if someone wants to track the changes in The Daily Beast’s wording for us and when they occurred, we’d love that.)
The drumbeat of criticism — not one news story, essay, FB post or tweet I could find said that the piece had any reason to exist beyond clickbait-y titillation — got louder and louder over the course of the day. The Daily Beast finally caved and took the piece down on Thursday evening. It was replaced with an apology. A bad, bad apology. I don’t even want to reward those jerks with a click, so I’ll cut and paste it for you.
Here are all the ways this apology is terrible.
First adjective: “Unprecedented.” You’re trying to make your apology into clickbait! YOU’LL NEVER GUESS WHAT WE’RE DOING NOW! YOU’LL BE SHOCKED BY WHAT HAPPENED NEXT! Screw you. The implication, also, is that we at The Daily Beast have never been wrong, so we have never taken down a story before…which means you’re using this apology to toot your own horn. Shudder.
Second paragraph: We originally thought we could just edit out some stuff, but we were wrong. Sorry! Yeah, no. Why were you wrong? Tell us you understand. What, precisely, was your intent? The original self-expulcatory note is gone, so tell us now why you thought this piece had any news value whatsoever. You have to name the sin to apologize for it wholeheartedly. And “we apologize to the athletes who may have been inadvertently compromised by our story”? Inadvertently? Really? It was advertent, you wee beasties. Your writer coquettishly dropped telling details deliberately — heights, weights, medals, records, countries of origin — knowing full well that people would try to figure out which human beings he was calling out. You do not get to use self-excusing adverbs in an apology as a way to downplay the wrong you did, you perfidious schmucks. “Inadvertent” my sedentary couch-spanning non-Olympian journalist ass.
As for “may have been compromised” — YOU ARE THE ABSOLUTE WORST. There is no may. You did compromise them. You compromised their physical and emotional safety. NO MAY. DID. NO MAY. Check out the response from this out gay Olympian from Tonga (Tongan athletes, thank you for continuing to give me reasons to love you)
It is still illegal to be gay in Tonga, and while I’m strong enough to be me in front of the world, not everybody else is. Respect that.
— Amini Fonua (@AminiFonua) August 11, 2016
@NicoHines Some of these people you just outed are my FRIENDS. With family and lives that are forever going to be affected by this
— Amini Fonua (@AminiFonua) August 11, 2016
Dude had so many great tweets, I’m gonna have to encourage you to follow him on Twitter (he’s vocal about doping and smart and bold and funny in general — worth your while!) and I’ll just cut and paste a string of a few of his righteous callouts or we’ll be here all day:
But getting back to the Daily Behemoth and apology analysis, which is why we are here: Time for paragraph 3!
“Today we did not uphold a deep set of the Daily Beast’s values.” Ugh, YOU read their long litany of noble values in the image above. I’m busy vomiting hither and yon like a true Olympic champion. So much self-congratulatory bullpucky-laden masturbation about being a proudly, steadfastly supportive voice for LGBT people all over the world. Please look up “steadfastly” in your pocket dictionary. (I hope that’s a dictionary in your pocket and not the biochemical result of your excitement at outing closeted people.) Publishing this piece shows that you are not steadfast in your support, you rainbow-flag-waving deluded-or-lying-you-pick weasels. Also “our commitment to journalism”????????? Again, you have not stated what the journalistic value of this piece is. At no point. There is no value. You lack commitment. The ceremony of innocence is drowned; the best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity and OMG I HATE YOU SO MUCH DAILY BEAST YOU ARE MAKING ME GO THE FULL YEATS.
Homestretch! The vomit bucket is beckoning me so let’s wrap this up! Thanks for not pointing out the failure of “a single individual,” but you really went the extra mile of NOT MENTIONING THE AUTHOR’S NAME. WUT. NICO HINES NICO HINES NICO HINES CANDYMAN CANDYMAN CANDYMAN. Name him. As for “not intended to do harm or degrade members of the LGBT community,” again, you haven’t told us WHAT THE INTENT WAS. WHERE IS THE NEWS VALUE. As for the hope that removing the article “will demonstrate how seriously we take our error” — nope! Does not demonstrate! Tell us about how everyone in your office will be undergoing sensitivity training. Tell me which LGBT organization is coming to give you concrete help in learning what good reporting on the community is. Tell me how you’re going to show us a commitment to good journalism instead of clickbait. Show us you understand precisely what you did.
Final graf: “We will do better.” Words. Just words. You have given us no reason to believe you.
For the bazillionth time: WRITE THIS DOWN, EVERYONE. A good apology names the offense, apologizes to everyone (not just “those we offended” or in this case those “who may have been inadvertently compromised”), makes clear that the apologizer knows precisely what impact their actions had; explains the steps being taken to insure that the offense will not be repeated; and works to make amends. This apology fails on EVERY. SINGLE. COUNT.
Olympic bad-apology gold, Daily Beast.