I hadn’t written anything about the controvery created by a piece of reporting at Grantland earlier this week, but then I heard this take on it from the Daily Caller’s Matt Lewis and decided I needed to write something.
Bill Simmons, Grantland’s editor, published a long piece a few days ago that explained and apologized for what happened with an investigative piece that ended up outing its subject as transgender (to one of her investors while she was still alive and then, when the piece was published, to the whole world after she had killed herself).
Lewis, in this short video clip, takes issue with Simmons’ apology because he feels that the backlash against the Grantland piece was PC thuggery and damages people’s ability to do good investigative reporting.
What’s interesting — and terrible — about Lewis’ commentary is that he absolutely fails to consider the depth of Simmons’ mea culpa, lampooning what I take to be the most important point that Simmons makes.
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 ….
Whether you believe we were right or wrong, let’s at least agree that we made an indefensible mistake not to solicit input from ANYONE in the trans community.
What Simmons recognizes — albeit so very, very late — is that no one on his staff stopped for even a moment to think about things from the perspective of a member of a community that is radically misunderstood, marginalized, and persecuted.
Lewis bemoans and ridicules the notion that a reporter or an editorial staff ought to consider things from the perspective of the Other, making clear that he completely missed the central lesson of the whole Grantland controversy.
Can you do investigative journalism and follow a story’s unexpected twists and turns? You bet. Is it possible to also take into account how your reporting might impact people who are unlike you in some important respect? I would certainly hope so.