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ESPN’s Grantland site, which is run by editor-in-chief Bill Simmons ran a controversial story last week called “Dr. V’s Magic Putter,” which was written by Caleb Hannan and profiled Essay Anne Vanderbilt, the inventor of a “superior” golf club. The story revealed that Vanderbilt, who committed suicide, was transgender and the story was criticized for showing a lack of empathy. Simmons wrote a lengthy apology on his site Monday, trying to explain what went wrong.
“Dr. V’s Magic Putter” was at first just a look at the golf club Vanderbilt invented. However, Hannan went into Vanderbilt’s personal life, uncovering that she was transgender and faked credentials, notes The Huffington Post.
Vanderbilt committed suicide in October, before the story was published. The Hollywood Reporter notes that she accused Hannan of a ‘hate crime’ in emails.
The story was criticized on the web, and Simmons remained silent. He did post a apology on Monday, trying to explain how the story got published. The story was read by several ESPN editors, but Simmons said the blame is all on him.
“Don’t blame Caleb or anyone that works for me,” he wrote. “It’s my site and anything this significant is my call. Blame me. I didn’t ask the biggest and most important question before we ran it — that’s my fault and only my fault.”
He also explained what Hannan’s biggest mistake was while he was reporting on the story. “Caleb’s biggest mistake? Outing Dr. V to one of her investors while she was still alive,” Simmons wrote. “I don’t think he understood the moral consequences of that decision, and frankly, neither did anyone working for Grantland. That misstep never occurred to me until I discussed it with Christina Kahrl yesterday. But that speaks to our collective ignorance about the issues facing the transgender community in general, as well as our biggest mistake: not educating ourselves on that front before seriously considering whether to run the piece.”
Kahrl also wrote a piece called “What Grantland Got Wrong.” She is a member of the board of directors for GLAAD.
“We will use the constructive feedback to continue our ongoing dialogue on these important and sensitive topics,” ESPN said in its own statement Sunday. “Ours is a company that values the LGBT community internally and in our storytelling, and we will all learn from this.”