Nico Hines, The Daily Beast senior editor who wrote a stupid, exploitative article outing gay Olympians from anti-gay countries at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Summer Games, has finally re-emerged after seven months of public silence.
While his Twitter has remained silent since Aug. 10, 2016 (presumably to avoid the lynch mob awaiting him there), his publication recently published his official apology. Hines is now back at work, covering the recent terror attack on the British Parliament.
As for his apology, it’s a well-written bit of self-flagellation. Here’s a particularly nice bit that shows Hines knows how badly he fucked up:
Since our article was published, I have received hundreds of emails reminding me that many members of the LGBTQ community do not always feel they can trust society at large and I am aware that I contributed to that fear. By failing to recognize the harm I might cause by intruding on a safe space, I was guilty of reinforcing those emotions.
Hines wraps up the apology by saying, “The Daily Beast’s readers let me know how I got it wrong. I will not get it wrong again,” but some folks aren’t buying it.
Cyd Zeigler Jr., co-founder of the LGBTQ sports site Outsports, called the apology ”seven months too late” and Slate writer Mark Joseph Stern said that Hines “should keep his work far, far away from anything having to do with queer people.”
Here’s the thing: If Hines and The Daily Beast really want to show that they’re sorry and will do better in the future, there are several things they can do. Here are our suggestions:
1. Explain how the article happened in the first place (and why it won’t happen again)
As Outsports co-founder Jim Buzinski wrote in December 2016 when he dubbed Hines and The Daily Beast editors “Assholes of the Year,” The Daily Beast has some explaining to do:
The Daily Beast needs to explain its editorial process — whose idea was it for the story? How many editors read it before it was published? Who made the final decision to hit “publish”? Who OK’d the headline? Were any LGBT Daily Beast staffers consulted on the merits of the story prior to publication? Why did it take all day to delete the story? Was Hines or any other staffer punished? What safeguards are in place to ensure this doesn’t happen again?
Naturally, we don’t think The Daily Beast really wants to go through this because it’ll only reveal the systemic ineptitude of their original decision and earn public ridicule for its editorial leadership. But they should at least publish editorial guidelines that’ll be used in the future to reassure readers they’ll be more ethical should they ever cover queer people or queer spaces again.
2. Meet with the article’s biggest critics
Among Hines’ biggest critics were Zeigler, a longtime queer sports journalist and anti-queerphobia advocate, and the Tongan swimmer Amini Fonua (one of the 2016 Summer Games’ only openly gay male Olympians and our secret Olympic crush).
After Hines published his article, Fonua let him have it, saying via social media, “Seriously fuck off with your str8 white male privilege preying on closeted people who can’t live in their truth yet. U ruin us.”
Both Zeigler and Fonua obviously feel strongly about Hines’ article, but Hines could signal his willingness to learn more by talking with them. After the inevitable tongue-lashing, he could gain a greater understanding of the issues at play and maybe even get some additional steps for making amends.
Better yet, The Daily Beast could help finance a well-written feature article through Outsports or another media outlet (not The Daily Beast) that dives deeper into the plight of LGBTQ athletes competing in anti-gay countries — it’s a fascinating, important story and understanding it would benefit readers, sports lovers and citizens in anti-LGBTQ countries alike.
3. Work with an anti-homophobia athletics group
Hines could volunteer some of his time to You Can Play, Athlete Ally, The Principle 6 Campaign or another pro-LGBTQ group that opposes homophobia in sports. In addition to the educational and social good that might come from it, The Daily Beast could also make a sizable donation to one of these organizations to show its sincere commitment to helping restore the community it needlessly disturbed.
(Featured image of Greg Louganis via Getty Images)