Daily Beast outs gay Olympic athletes, many from “notoriously homophobic” countries

UPDATE: The Daily Beast has pulled the story entirely, after a vicious and well-deserved response from a gay Olympic athlete.

What were they thinking?

The Daily Beast is facing a lot of criticism today over a story they published this morning (and have now heavily redacted) about gay Olympic athletes attempting to meet up and hook up with other gay Olympic athletes during the Rio games.

Because of some really sloppy writing and editing — and at best, some incredible naïveté — the Daily Beast story outed several athletes from “notoriously homophobic” countries (that last term comes from the author of the story himself, so he knew what he was dealing with).

In a nutshell, a straight reporter (a guy who’s married to a woman, and has kids) decided to go on a gay networking app while attending the Olympics, and pretend that he was gay. (His first bad idea, of many.)

He then proceeded to write a voyeuristic piece about trying to find man-on-man sex in the Olympic Village. And in doing so, provided enough detail about the gay Olympians he was chatting with so that anyone could easily figure out their real identity on Google.

Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern in fact did just that — Stern quickly identified 5 of the Olympians by name. (Stern was smart enough not to publish the names.)

On its face, when a reporter says to his editor, “hey boss, let’s do a fun piece about closeted gay men hooking up,” a good editor ought to have an immediate gut-check that says “not so fast.”

But then you add in the fact that these aren’t just gay Americans — these are gay people from all over the world, many from countries where being gay would not just end their career, but could in fact end their lives — and any good editor would stop that reporter in his tracks.

So what happened?

Were there no gay people involved in the story, at the editorial or even fact-checking level, who could stand up and say “guys, this is a bad idea”?

Were the writer and editors so young that they live in a post-gay bubble where they just assume that “it’s okay now to be gay, so no harm no foul?”

To its credit, the Daily Beast has now heavily redacted the original story, in order to protect the identities of the gay Olympians.

In a twisted way, I could see how the Daily Beast might have thought this story was in fact pro-gay. In the old days, you’d avoid a story like this, in part because “civilized” people didn’t talk about “the gay.” In fact, we still have the problem where openly-gay people are inned in their obituaries by either homophobic editors; or well-meaning editors who don’t want to “out” them, even though they’re already out.

Is that what happened here? Did the Daily Beast think, hey, we’re treating gays just like straights — investigating their sex lives just like we might a straight person’s? Perhaps. But it’s a false equivalency. A guy runs a much better chance of losing his job, or his life, if someone exposes the fact that he sleeps with guys than if they’d reported that he sleeps with women. And everyone involved in this story should have known that.

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Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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24 Responses to “Daily Beast outs gay Olympic athletes, many from “notoriously homophobic” countries”

  1. Logan says:

    The removal of this article is proof that real journalism is dead, sacrificed on the altar of political correctness.

  2. DoverBill says:

    Ya know what’s gay these days… this kinda shit!

  3. Christinaccheney says:

    <<fb. ★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★::::::!il528r:….,…..

  4. Mariarwilliams4 says:

    <<fb. ★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★::::::!il127r:….,….

  5. Joseph Drummond says:

    It is a good thing that these athletes were outed. Now someone can tell them about all the diseases and cancers that can happen to men who have sex with men.

  6. Bill_Perdue says:

    People in many countries get killed after being outed. Publishing this article is a call to murder.

  7. He couldn’t get any straight people (i.e. women) to respond to him, so he went after the gays. Big laughs!

  8. This is an act of corporate malfeasance. The Daily Beast is not a plucky startup, it is part of IAC, founded by Barry Diller (who is not quite openly gay). IAC has about $750M in quarterly revenue. TDB itself seems to have about $80M in quarterly revenue and has been operating for eight years. Chelsea Clinton is on the board of directors of IAC. This is horrible misbehavior by a huge corporation, victimizing vulnerable people (one of them an 18-year-old from a tiny, fiercely homophobic country), and it should be treated as such.

  9. Don Chandler says:

    “[The reporter] decided to go on a gay networking app while attending the Olympics, and pretend that he was gay.”

    That is a whopper of a mistake…. Send him to Uganda or Saudi Arabia or Texas to do some undercover work. Or Maybe just send him to Singapore so he can get the caning he deserves.

  10. lilyhammer says:

    Were there stories about straight people hooking up? If not, I fail to see how the news value outweighs the bias/danger factor. I guess I fail to see the news value anyway.

  11. goulo says:

    In this case, I would not attribute to malice that which can be attributed to cluelessness… I can’t imagine why he would seriously want to deliberately hurt those athletes.

  12. Mickey Dugan says:

    Thank you, John. Your commentaries are usually shrill hysteria, but this is one I agree with.

  13. Colin says:

    Damn ! I thought “The Gay ” was a superhero .

  14. NORMAN DOSTAL says:

    disgusting-Daily Beast just lost thousands of readers

  15. Kalil Chernov says:

    “It was click-bait, John. All about the clicks and page-views. Along the way, common sense, decency, and journalistic ethics were tossed out the window.”
    On that note, I think it’s a lot better to either not link to the piece at all, or to link to one of the excellent pieces covering it (see: Slate, http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2016/08/11/the_daily_beast_s_olympics_grindr_stunt_is_dangerous_and_unethical.html ).

  16. Colin says:

    If the writer knew what he was doing and knew they were from “notoriously homophobic” countries,
    then as far as I can tell it was done deliberately to hurt someone.

  17. Kalil Chernov says:

    I am very much closeted at work, here in the US, working for the US government, because my particular career (I’m a mariner) is crawling with regressive homophobes with a penchant for violence. Some of my better friends at work crack jokes about trans-bashing. The world still sucks.

  18. Hue-Man says:

    “Were the writer and editors so young that they live in a post-gay bubble
    where they just assume that “it’s okay now to be gay, so no harm no
    foul?””

    Being outed can lead to death in some countries but even in the West, there can be downsides. Recently, Telus (telephone, internet, mobile) commissioned a poll about LGBT people at work.

    “The study also found that 57 per cent of LGBTQ Canadians are not fully “out” at
    work: 22 per cent of those are worried about a hostile or unfriendly
    work environment, 15 per cent are worried it may limit their career
    opportunities and 10 per cent are concerned with their personal safety.”

    http://about.telus.com/community/english/news_centre/news_releases/blog/2016/07/26/lgbtq-canadians-still-face-challenges-at-work

    Telus’ head office is in Vancouver, B.C. which has had ENDA-type provisions in its Human Rights Code since 1992. For the whole country, there are very few issues remaining on the Gay Agenda To-Do List (MSM blood donations, conversion therapy ban are the two most important).

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_rights_in_Canada#Summary_table

    I’m in no way advocating for remaining in the closet; progressive laws and progressive employers don’t necessarily change the behavior and attitudes of others. Those same laws can’t deal with a toxic work environment if your supervisor hates lesbians and gays.

    (Caveat emptor: I don’t recognize the polling firm and the sample size seems too low. I’m glad Telus took the initiative.)

  19. goulo says:

    The article says “I didn’t lie to anyone or pretend to be someone I wasn’t”, which itself seems disingenuous; it sounds like he pretended to be someone looking for sex, and not a journalist writing a story describing people looking for sex, and he was pretending with each of them until they asked him who he was and only then he said he was a journalist.

  20. BeccaM says:

    It was click-bait, John. All about the clicks and page-views. Along the way, common sense, decency, and journalistic ethics were tossed out the window.

    In addition to all that, why the hell did Nico Hines and the Daily Beast’s editors think this was a story even vaguely worth posting? “Grown adults date each other using currently available social app tools! Athletes just like the rest of humanity in technologically-advanced locales!” SMGDH…

  21. Houndentenor says:

    I know the Daily Beast is sleazy, but why? Why would they do this? Some of those athletes are in danger down. Oh look we redacted part of it after everyone already saw it and screen shots are out there! Fuckers. I doubt even TMZ would stoop this low.

  22. NORMAN DOSTAL says:

    vile and terribly irresponsible! This is LIFE AND DEATH!

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