The Daily Beast on Thursday night removed a controversial article from its website after criticism on social media and elsewhere characterizing the story as an exploitative exercise in stunt journalism.
In a note, the site’s editorial staff called the decision to pull the article “unprecedented but necessary” and explained that the story was not in keeping with The Daily Beast’s values:
Today we did not uphold a deep set of The Daily Beast’s values. These values — which include standing up to bullies and bigots, and specifically being a proudly, steadfastly supportive voice for LGBT people all over the world—are core to our commitment to journalism and to our commitment to serving our readers.
The story featured London Editor Nico Hines (who identifies himself as a straight married man) using a series of hookup apps in Rio to investigate rumors that the Olympic Village is an epicenter of casual sex. The story was identified by Slate (and other outlets) as an example of “Grindr baiting,” using the hookup app to lure gay Olympians.
Here’s how Slate framed its criticism:
The entire piece is an astoundingly creepy exercise in Grindr-baiting, which involves a journalist accessing Grindr in an unlikely setting and … seeing what happens. But the Daily Beast piece, penned by Nico Hines, is a uniquely disgusting and irresponsible entry into the tired genre. Hines entices his (often closeted) subjects under false pretenses; effectively outs several closeted athletes who live in repressive countries; then writes about the whole thing in a tone of mocking yet lurid condescension.
Earlier in the day, The Daily Beast added an editor’s note to the bottom of the story and removed parts of the article containing details that might be used to help identify any subjects of the story. It also acknowledged the criticism and apologized.
But the website later acknowledged that wasn’t enough:
As a newsroom, we succeed together and we fail together, and this was a failure on The Daily Beast as a whole, not a single individual. The article was not intended to do harm or degrade members of the LGBT community, but intent doesn’t matter, impact does. Our hope is that removing an article that is in conflict with both our values and what we aspire to as journalists will demonstrate how seriously we take our error.
We screwed up. We will do better.