Editorial Teams: Get Your S*** Together.

By now you may have heard the complicated story of Dr. V. who invented a “scientifically superior” golf club, which was published on Grantland, and the controversy surrounding it. Over the course of the 7,000 word story, the author not only delves into the inventor’s credentials, but outs her as a trans woman to one of her investors. Dr. V. committed suicide four or five weeks after the writer interviewed her for the piece.

In a letter from the editor several days later, Grantland’s editor-in-chief Bill Simmons writes:

So what did we screw up? Well, that’s where it gets complicated. …To my infinite regret, we never asked anyone knowledgeable enough about transgender issues to help us either (a) improve the piece, or (b) realize that we shouldn’t run it. That’s our mistake — and really, my mistake, since it’s my site. So I want to apologize. I failed.

Simmons is right. They did fail. And it’s the same issue that many media sites have–a staff lacking diversity and sensitivity, so when anything goes down, there’s no one to point out the ignorance. We’ve said it time and time again–every staff needs a Jamal.

On today’s show #TeamBlackness discusses the responsibility of the media, why gummy African Masks may not be the best candy choice, and who should not play Whitney Houston in the planned biopic.

Subscribe on iTunes | Subscribe On Stitcher | Direct Download | RSS

The Morning Crew returns with a very important What You Should Know about the Voting Rights Act (11:00), Air BnB’s digital discrimination (23:08), Putin equating homosexuality with pedophilia (39:19), and a problematic piece of art discussed (48:36).

Subscribe on iTunes | Subscribe On Stitcher | Direct Download | RSS

Want to support TWiB? Shop at Amazon using this link: http://twib.me/amazon – make a purchase, it contributes to TWiB!






192 replies
  1. 1
    DougJ says:

    The Dr. V piece was terrible. Good on Simmons for being so upfront with his answer. Would that those whose publications pimped the Iraq war were equally candid.

  2. 2

    Simmons is a gigantic nozzle. He has become everything that he started out ridiculing. I like a bunch of the writers at grantland, but Simmons can consume a satchel of penii topped with sodium chloride.

  3. 3
    MomSense says:

    I hadn’t heard about this at all. Ok, have some listening to do.

    Really good to have you back, Elon.

  4. 4
    KG says:

    I read Grantland regularly, I check it a few times a day… I had skipped over the Dr V story because I assumed it was about golf and I don’t care much for golf. I read Simmons’ apology/letter yesterday and was surprised because that was the first time I’d heard about any controversy. I’m still not really sure what to make of it (and in all honesty, have only skimmed the Dr V piece thus far). It’s also interesting because maybe a week or two ago they ran a story on Laura Jane Grace and her transsexuality.

  5. 5
    Violet says:

    By now you may have heard the complicated story of Dr. V. who invented a “scientifically superior” gold club,

    Gold club? No I hadn’t heard the story. In fact until I clicked through, from your description I thought it had something to do with some goldbug thing like they’re always shilling on wingnut radio and TV. So it’s a golf club!

  6. 6
    kc says:

    By now you may have heard the complicated story of Dr. V

    Wow, I had NOT heard about that. Just went and read about it. How sad.

    Grantland should link the editor’s apology far more prominently on the same page as the original story, in my opinion.

  7. 7
    Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN) says:

    I don’t think the piece itself was terrible though I thought there were parts of it that could have used a lot of improvement. It’s an inherently difficult piece because it was intended to be laudatory and it turned out the the principle figure lied to the writer about everything. And Simmons is correct: once you started digging it would have been very difficult to leave out the fact that Dr. V was trans. The hole left would have been both obvious and enormous. You can’t really tell a story about someone who has created a fictional background without explaining what the real one is.

    The writer spent most of a year working on the piece. Given the rising stature of the putter in question it was certainly relevant. And the principle actor was defrauding both her customers and her investors with her claims about her background. I don’t think the fact that she was trans should exempt her for journalism altogether and the problems all resulted because she was incapable of telling the truth. Had being trans been the only lie, or at least the basis for all of the lies, it would have been one thing but it went way beyond that.

    I don’t deny that being trans is hard and that we need to be sensitive to these issues. But that’s not a get out of jail free card and that seems to be how a lot of people are playing it.

  8. 8
    Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN) says:

    @kc: You can’t link the apology any more prominently than they have.

  9. 9

    The reporter should be fired. There was no reason whatsoever to dig into her background like that and then out her. It is journalistic malpractice at best, pure fucking malice at worst.

  10. 10
    Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN) says:

    @Litlebritdiftrnt: Yes, there was a reason. She lied about her background not only to the reporter but also to her customers and investors. Those claims formed the basis of her marketing. The writer was trying to learn about the clubs and the claims were an integral part of it. So he investigated the claims and they were false so he set about trying to find those answers.

    That’s what journalists do. If you don’t like it here, don’t complain when it’s not done in general.

  11. 11

    @Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN):

    We must agree to disagree then. Her sexual orientation had nothing to do with her invention of the golf club. If the golf club was as brilliant as it is made out, her investors were in to make a mint.

  12. 12
    Keith G says:

    @Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN): Agreed.

    Other topic:

    …who should not play Whitney Houston in the planned biopic.

    Lindsay Lohan

  13. 13
    aimai says:

    @Litlebritdiftrnt: I’m not so sure about that. What if it were Bernadette Madoff and she had faked her history as an investor? What if it is a woman who fakes her medical degree and a puff piece reveals that Dr. X didn’t go to medical school under anyname or gender?

    I don’t think the trans issue is at all relevant but when you add in all the other identity lies and, basically, fraudulent claims it becomes a bit puzzling how to handle one kind of biographical shift vs. another. I thought the critique of the piece that is linked to upthread by the sports writer added something I hadn’t ever considered which is that by definition someone who is trans but closeted is going to have to have, essentially, falsified their entire new background. This means that anyone trying to be a public figure,an inventor, a teacher who relies on their previous degrees, etc… is going to run the risk that when someone does a background check on them their situation is going to be revealed.

    Of course it behooves journalists to tread lightly and sympathetically with biographical backgrounds and people have the right, absent other fraudulent claims, to be the person they present as in the interview or at work. But apparently there was fraud here. What was the reporter supposed to do once that had been discovered?

    People get revealed to have faked important parts of their background all the time–and they sometimes find they can’t brazen it out with their investors/customers/voters.

  14. 14
    Sly says:

    @Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN):

    I don’t think the fact that she was trans should exempt her for journalism altogether and the problems all resulted because she was incapable of telling the truth. Had being trans been the only lie

    Sigh.

    I’ll make this as plain as possible, since you’re carrying around some assumptions about trans folk that are probably going to make this conversation a bit dodgy.

    Vanderbilt lied about her qualifications as a golf club designer. This is relevant to a story that is about golf clubs. Vanderbilt did not lie about her gender identity (because trans folk do not lie about their gender identity… if anything they seek to have the outward appearance match a deeply felt inner truth) and, even if she did, it would have zero relevance to a story about golf clubs.

  15. 15
    Doc Sportello says:

    @Sly: Agreed that Dr. V did not lie about her gender identity. But how do you tell this story?

    The author was investigating the increasingly murky background of the inventor and stumbled onto someone who told him she was a trans woman.

    A question: Grantland outed Dr. V after she passed, and Simmons and others now say this is a bad thing. I don’t see how Dr. V could be affected after she died. What am I missing?

    I’m trying to educate myself, not troll.

  16. 16
    gussie says:

    Just read the article. There’s a tonal problem in dealing with the trans stuff–the writer is pretty clearly trying (and I’d say failing)–to address the issue responsibly. That’s the stuff that an editor should’ve caught. An element of almost titillation. Not titillation, but maybe almost-voyeruism? Still, the facts seem appropriately-handled, as does mentioning the subject’s background.

  17. 17
    kuvasz says:

    I hope someone beats the fucking shit of Simmons until he has to walk with a cane and stutters the rest of his life.

  18. 18
    LesGS says:

    She lied about her credentials. She didn’t lie about her gender, which had nothing to do with the golf club she was selling. That she was a transwoman should never been part of the article, as it was irrelevant to its subject. I don’t blame Hannan for her suicide, but I don’t doubt the stress caused by the knowledge that she was about to be outed and wanting to avoid the following humiliation was a factor in her death.

  19. 19
    The Other Chuck says:

    @Sly:

    it would have zero relevance to a story about golf clubs.

    It’s as much about golf clubs as Bridgegate is about traffic studies.

  20. 20
    scav says:

    The gender identity thing is a bit different from the other lies and not really germane to the story. The outing of it by the reporter to one of the investors really smacks of bad judgement on the part of the reporter. If he’d discoved that one of his subjects was having a spot of adultery, is he going to go joke about it with the subject’s boss? Research fine, disclosure of that sort in that manner? v. v. poorly done. Guardian piece

    ETA Outing to investor done while woman still alive.

  21. 21
    The Other Chuck says:

    @kuvasz: I hope you get treatment for your rage issues.

  22. 22
    Narcissus says:

    Seems like journalism schools produce a lot of idiots.

  23. 23
    kc says:

    @Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN):

    I disagree. It’s off to the right, looks like just another headline, easy to miss.

    They should have edited the story to put a note (and link) right under the headline. Or at a minimum at the end of the piece.

  24. 24
    Violet says:

    @Doc Sportello: The author did out her to one of her investors. To me that seems to be the biggest mistake. Edit. In the piece. Outside of that, they should have run it by someone with knowledge of the trans community so they would have better insight. That’s a big error.

  25. 25
    LesGS says:

    @Doc Sportello: She was outed as trans to an investor before her suicide. I’m sure she feared that information would spread. It always does.

  26. 26
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN):

    Here’s where the author got himself into trouble (via the Guardian link above):

    The Grantland article said of Dr V: “What began as a story about a brilliant woman with a new invention had turned into the tale of a troubled man who had invented a new life for himself.”

    Uh, no. I’m not trans, I’m not gay, but even I can see the problem with predicating your story on the subject being a liar, and her gender identity being just another one in a series of lies. Transpeople can certainly be liars, just like the rest of us, but to lump her gender identity in with the other lies is just factually incorrect.

  27. 27
    Nerull says:

    @Doc Sportello: DrV commited suicide after the journalist informed her he was going to out her as trans. After being repeatedly begged not to.

    The story started as an investigation into the merits of a golf club. It got sidetracked when the reporter saw an opportunity to destroy someones life.

  28. 28
    MaryRC says:

    @LesGS: The assumption that everyone is making is that she killed herself because she was outed. I don’t think we know that. People have committed suicide after their fraudulent activities have been revealed — see Robert Maxwell, or J. Clifford Baxter the Enron VP – without having been outed as well.

  29. 29
    kc says:

    @aimai:

    . But apparently there was fraud here.

    Not in any legal sense of the word. She lied about her background.

    To be clear, we’re talking about a farkin’ golf club here . . . and the reporter himself thought it was a pretty decent one, at least up until he found out Dr. V. wasn’t really a super-secret spy.

  30. 30
    Violet says:

    @MaryRC: From the article she had already attempted suicide once before. Does that mean she was more at risk for another attempt? Not sure.

  31. 31
    kc says:

    @kuvasz:

    A bit over the top, don’t you think?

  32. 32
    Tommy says:

    I went to college on a DI golf scholarship. It isn’t rocket science to say folks have been looking for a better putter or club in general. The same time I was playing golf on that scholarship, I met my first transgender person. I was running a suicide hotline at my college. This women came in for an interview and she was like the size of a dude that could have been a line backer for the Bears. She was wearing a dress.

    I was confused.

    So I interviewed her. She was the best person I interviewed to work on that hotline. I said you are in. About a quarter if the folks quit cause I brought her on. This is like 1989. She was a wonderful person. I was the Polo guy there, and often I found people that were not “cool” wanted to work on said hotline. I embraced that!

  33. 33
    gwangung says:

    @Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN):

    That’s what journalists do.

    You are quite mistaken.

    This is bedrock journalism 101. If it’s not relevant to the story, it’s private. And sexuality is most personal these days. Journalists have gone through this with the gay community and have developed some practices to help deal with this.

    Hell, my training is over 35 years old and I know you don’t do this.

  34. 34
    kc says:

    @kc:

    Oh, for Christ’s sake, I see it now. There are links to the Kahrle essay and the apology right under the freakin’ headline. Good God. I need to sue my eye doctor.

    Now I apologize. Sorry!

  35. 35
    cokane says:

    The Dr. V story and the story about the story are fascinating in my opinion. I don’t think there’s necessarily a clear cut moral judgment though it’s easy to lob stones as an observer seeing the final product. What is surprising is the tone of the piece. The writer seems to have a callous indifference to his subject’s suicide and even the fact of the suicide gets buried in the story. I mean shouldn’t the story have led with “scientific golf club inventor kills herself” or at least have those facts be some kind of focus high in the story. Instead it’s almost treated as a footnote. Couldn’t read every section of that story closely as golf is like watching flies fuck, as Carlin said, and reading about it would be like reading 50 shades of grey with drosophila.

    Still the whole thing is a fascinating way for the media to further educate itself on a marginalized group that’s for sure.

  36. 36
    Doc Sportello says:

    @Violet: Telling the investor was wrong. No dispute.

    Would, though, appreciate learning why outing a deceased person is bad.

    I’ve tried googling this and came up with nothing. Again, not trying to troll. Just treat me like I’m stupid.

  37. 37
    Doc Sportello says:

    @Nerull: We don’t know this from the article.

    And we’ll never know Dr. V’s version.

  38. 38
    The Thin Black Duke says:

    @gwangung: Exactly. The journalist could have done his damned job without outing her.

  39. 39
    Botsplainer says:

    Next time somebody laments the absence of real investigative journalism, I’ll point out this thread and the tears over a suicided loser fraudster who leapfrogged over actual qualified people based on a web of lies.

    Assholism isn’t limited to straight white Christian males. Perhaps Madame Trans was less than truthful with romantic interests as well.

    In any event, it was a solid investigative piece.

  40. 40
    LesGS says:

    @MaryRC: You’re right, we don’t know the precise reason(s) she killed herself. But she had tried to kill herself before. I’m sure the stress of dealing with GID was a factor in that first attempt. I’m sure she saw her life coming down around her ears, and she may well have killed herself if her trans status *had* been left out of it. But it wasn’t, and I believe it was a factor in her decision to commit suicide.

  41. 41
    Botsplainer says:

    @Doc Sportello:

    And we’ll never know Dr. V’s version.

    Who gives a fuck? Besides, quit calling it “doctor”.

  42. 42
    kc says:

    @cokane:

    The writer seems to have a callous indifference to his subject’s suicide and even the fact of the suicide gets buried in the story

    Yeah. He seems more excited to have found out her gender secret. That “chill literally went up my spine” business and all. I read the editor’s explanation, but honestly, I can’t believe that got past all the eyes that were on that article. I guess they were all just too tickled with that “scoop” to think about how it might read to other people.

  43. 43
    Gex says:

    I find the implication that if someone’s gender identity isn’t immediately obvious to you by looking then that person is lying to be obnoxious. Too many here willing to call that a lie. That stuff is no one’s business in the first place and if you haven’t had to lie about your gender identity or sexual orientation in order to not be constantly harassed by haters, maybe you shouldn’t be making such assertions. Lying about these things saves lives. Not that you have to consider that when you are calling people out.

  44. 44
    cokane says:

    @The Thin Black Duke: no he actually couldn’t. The fact that she changed genders and names is what made her past difficult to find. When the author did find out about the facts of her past, facts relevant to her professional credentials, telling them would reveal that she was trans. Period.

  45. 45
    CaseyL says:

    If her fraudulent activities were conducted before gender re-assignment, then referencing them is a problem: she was using a different (male) name, and was living as a man.

    How does one report on frauds that were conducted under a different identity without mentioning that different identity? And if the different identity is that of a different gender, offered in the article without any explanation, the reader is going to be awfully confused, and wonder why no editor caught the change in name and pronoun.

  46. 46
    kc says:

    @kc:

    If I were in the reporter’s shoes, I probably would have been excited too. “Wow, get a load of THIS!” I would hope I’d have wise editors to keep me from publishing something I’d regret . . .

  47. 47
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Doc Sportello:

    Would, though, appreciate learning why outing a deceased person is bad.

    It’s not the outing of the deceased problem that’s the issue, per se. It’s the fact that the threat to out the living person (may have) led to her suicide.

  48. 48
    LesGS says:

    @Botsplainer: “Who gives a fuck? Besides, quit calling it “doctor”.”

    Boy howdy. If any of y’all want an example for why more of us transfolk kill ourselves than the rest of y’all, here’s one.

  49. 49
    Mnemosyne says:

    @kc:

    To be clear, there are people who are known to have pretended to be someone of another gender in order to commit fraud but aren’t actually transgender, so I do wonder if the reporter assumed that he was dealing with that kind of situation rather than realizing that he was dealing with an actual transgender person who also had some lies and fabrications in her background.

  50. 50
    scav says:

    @LesGS: Troll B lonely.

  51. 51
    Botsplainer says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    It’s not the outing of the deceased problem that’s the issue, per se. It’s the fact that the threat to out the living person (may have) led to her suicide.

    Loser fraudster shoulda thought of that before hoovering investor money and designing marketing campaigns.

    It’s a death that makes the world better.

  52. 52
    kc says:

    @cokane:

    Nope, not necessarily.

    What should Grantland have done instead? It really should have simply stuck with debunking those claims to education and professional expertise relevant to the putter itself, dropped the element of her gender identity if she didn’t want that to be public information — as she very clearly did not — and left it at that. “That would have been responsible,” transgender activist Antonia Elle d’Orsay suggested when I asked for her thoughts on this road not taken. It’s certainly the path I would have chosen as a writer making this sort of accidental discovery, or would have insisted upon as an editor.

  53. 53
    Nerull says:

    @Botsplainer:

    Yes, because ‘investigative journalism’ means digging into someones personal life and publishing private details.

  54. 54
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    Holy shit. Every time I think they can’t possibly astonish or appal me — damned if they don’t astonish and appal me.

  55. 55
  56. 56
    kc says:

    @Botsplainer:

    Shut up now, please.

  57. 57
    Aji says:

    @Botsplainer: “It?”

    Fuck off now.

  58. 58
    LesGS says:

    @CaseyL: That is a tricky situation. However, it’s not a factor in this particular case.

  59. 59
    Nerull says:

    It is exactly this sort of bullshit that is the death of investigative journalism. Fake degree? Who cares. Probably won’t get published.

    Find out she’s trans? OMG RUN TO THE PRESSES!123111!!

    The details that actually matter are completely lost in the rush to reach the irrelevant and scandalous. The writer wouldn’t know investigative journalism if it bit him in the ass.

  60. 60
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    Don’t know why I suddenly don’t have permission to edit my own post, but #54 is, obviously, a bit off topic — which is all I really wanted to say in my ETA.

  61. 61
    Aji says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: I’m not astonished at all.

    This is who these racist assholes are. Especially in Oakland County (this guy’s always been a bigot), but everywhere in Michigan. It’s the most overtly racist place Ive ever lived, and that’s saying something. The anti-Indian bullshit runs deep, wide, and dangerous.

  62. 62
    Violet says:

    @Nerull: I didn’t get from the article or the editor’s apology that she specifically asked him not to out her. In fact it sounded like their communications via email were confusing. There’s specific discussion of unusual word choices and odd punctuation and a strange style of communicating. On the phone there would be sudden and strange changes in tone and outbursts of anger.

    It seems easy to see it from our vantage point. From the vantage point of stumbling across it while thinking you’re doing a story on a cool inventor, it was probably very confusing. With what sounds like no experience with the trans community, he may not have had any idea what she was dealing with.

    I’m not excusing him and his editors’ choices. Just seeing how it may have gone from their point of view. We have the benefit of hindsight. Sometimes when you’re in the weeds it’s harder to see.

  63. 63
    Nerull says:

    @CaseyL: Why does he need to even mention a different gender identity? The readers don’t need to know he had to search under a different name. It’s an irrelevant detail.

  64. 64
    kc says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    I suppose that’s possible, though I think that’s giving him too much of the benefit of the doubt.

  65. 65
    cokane says:

    @kc: I just don’t agree with that logic. Not saying it’s a ridiculous argument. Look the writer found out that Dr. Vanderbilt was born Stephen Kroll. He did background checks on both people trying to confirm or deny many of the claims Dr. V was making. He explains this process. Journalists do not have a duty to withhold information from their readers just because their subject wants it that way. The Balloon Juice commentariat gets up in arms about how modern journalists are nothing more than stenographers, and here we have an example of a journalist in no way being that.

    Again, I’m in no way saying the piece is not without some glaring flaws. However, I think withholding that information on Dr V/Stephen Kroll would be deliberate obfuscation, which strikes me as the opposite of good reporting. I mean I guess we could sit here and argue that an inventor of a golf club does not deserve the same level of scrutiny and truth-at-all costs that we would apply to a politician. But then where do we draw the line?

    And that’s part of the story’s complexity. It’s easy to hurl stones at the writer with the benefit of further hindsight, the support of the righteous internet and more context around the story. But in the process of reporting and writing the story, those decisions are not as obvious.

  66. 66
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Botsplainer:

    Jeeze. What happened to you all of a sudden?

    “It”? Really? Really?

  67. 67
    Nerull says:

    @Violet: Telling someone you’ve found out about them being trans and them replying “You’re about to commit a hate crime.” seems clear enough to me.

    But he shouldn’t need to be told.

  68. 68
    Botsplainer says:

    @Nerull:

    Yes, because ‘investigative journalism’ means digging into someones personal life and publishing private details.

    …in order to rule out the reported credentials under the other name.

    FTFY

  69. 69
    Botsplainer says:

    @SiubhanDuinne:

    “It”? Really? Really?

    I find myself wondering if the trans thing was a mask of the con and a throwaway.

  70. 70
    Nerull says:

    @cokane: And he could have done that process without explaining the revealing details to the reader, and nothing would have been lost.

  71. 71
    Nerull says:

    @Botsplainer: And then he needed to tell the world all about it why?

    Just because you’ve discovered someones deeply personal, private secret doesn’t mean you are required to publish the intimate details. He could have done all the research. All the background checks. Everything. He could have reported all about her credentials or lack thereof, and simply left out the personal details. That would have been the responsible thing to do. But the draw of sensationalism was too tempting.

  72. 72
    gwangung says:

    @Nerull:

    The writer wouldn’t know investigative journalism if it bit him in the ass.

    It could be said that they missed another angle to the story: a non-professional, non-technical person in her garage by herself beat other high tech designers and engineers working teams to build a better putter (and the story did say it was not a bad putter).

  73. 73
    gwangung says:

    @cokane:

    Journalists do not have a duty to withhold information from their readers just because their subject wants it that way.

    Are you a journalist? Because that’s not how >I< was trained. And there are journalistic ethics out there that would argue against that.

  74. 74
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Botsplainer:

    I’m sure the subsequent suicide answered that question for most normal people. Con artists don’t kill themselves when they’re threatened with exposure.

  75. 75
    Botsplainer says:

    @Nerull:

    @cokane: And he could have done that process without explaining the revealing details to the reader, and nothing would have been lost.

    “We have another identity for her, but can’t reveal it”.

    Yeah, that story would play as well as one of Sy Hersch’s “highly placed intelligence sources”.

  76. 76
    kc says:

    @cokane:

    Well, I see what you’re saying but I think Kahrl (who actually IS a journalist) makes a pretty good case. She’s not saying “be a stenographer” or don’t report anything the subject doesn’t want you to – she says the lies about the degrees are fair game. But the trans thing is both irrelevant and potentially quite harmful. The lies about the degrees – still obviously bad for the inventor, but relevant to the story.

    Read her editorial that I linked to; she may not convince you but she’s a better writer and explain-er than I am.

  77. 77
    cokane says:

    @Nerull: I disagree. He choose to explain why his search was difficult. Maybe he didn’t have to, but many reporters would take the same tack. His difficulty in finding out the truth helps to explain how Vanderbilt was able to convince people like her investors of her false persona. I think the fact of her being trans adds valuable to context for readers who really care about that subject.

  78. 78
    Botsplainer says:

    @gwangung:

    It could be said that they missed another angle to the story: a non-professional, non-technical person in her garage by herself beat other high tech designers and engineers working teams to build a better putter (and the story did say it was not a bad putter).

    I can build a functional putter that won’t be bad. To get investor money and market the thing, though, you need credentials – scientific or sporting. This loser had neither, and people who have never touched a golf club are freeping Grantland via twitter to sob some outraged tears over an investigative piece that actually revealed facts.

  79. 79
    Violet says:

    I think it would have been possible to tell this story without outing her. But once the Pandora’s box was opened about how many lies there were in her background, it could invite more scrutiny. That scrutiny could then end up outing her. Not everyone is full of journalistic integrity. Even if this story ran and it had left out the part about her being trans, she might have ended up being outed anyway. I can definitely see that happening as investors decided to look more closely or another organization did some research.

    That doesn’t excuse the actions of this article’s author, however. Nor the editors. But from Dr. V’s perspective, she could see her life falling apart.

  80. 80
    Nerull says:

    @cokane: So say you had to search under another name. You don’t have to give the name. You don’t have to write “AND IT’S A MAN!!!!”. There are many ways to write that story without divulging personal information.

  81. 81
    Nerull says:

    @cokane: So say you had to search under another name. You don’t have to give the name. You don’t have to write “AND IT’S A MAN!!!!”. There are many ways to write that story without divulging personal information.

  82. 82
    kc says:

    @cokane:

    I mean I guess we could sit here and argue that an inventor of a golf club does not deserve the same level of scrutiny and truth-at-all costs that we would apply to a politician. But then where do we draw the line?

    Missed that bit earlier. Would you actually argue that a golf club inventor DOES deserve the “same level of scrutiny and truth-at-costs that we apply to a politician?” I’d really have to disagree with that. Gold club inventors do not deserve the same level of scrutiny as polticians who make public policy that can affect all of us for good or ill.

    That doesn’t mean sports journalists should get away with being sloppy or negligent, but come on, let’s have a sense of proportion and perspective here.

  83. 83
    cokane says:

    @Nerull: That just invites more questions — what name? I mean seriously I’m going to write a story and say “i found out that dr. v had changed her name and so i had to search under that name” and you’re not going to tell your readers what that name is? come on.

  84. 84
    Botsplainer says:

    @kc:

    That doesn’t mean sports journalists should get away with being sloppy or negligent, but come on, let’s have a sense of proportion and perspective here.

    Political reporting needs some examples of how good old-fashioned muckraking can get them out of the steno pool. Sports reporting is about the last vestige of a model to build on.

  85. 85
    cokane says:

    @kc: Any fair reading of what I wrote would indicate that I do not believe politicians and golf club inventors deserve the same level of scrutiny. However, private citizens who commit fraud also need to be held accountable.

    Also, if we’re going to get in a morality point-scoring game here, I’m not sure this will be a fruitful conversation to continue. So I’d encourage you to take a fair reading of what I write and also assume best intentions, as I have done with you.

  86. 86
    kc says:

    However, private citizens who commit fraud also need to be held accountable

    Who said otherwise?

    Edited: Sorry, sounds like I’m not “assuming best intentions” here. I’ll try to do that for now.

    Please do read the Kahrl piece, if you haven’t already.

  87. 87
    cokane says:

    @kc: Well, the actions of private citizens can also affects all of us for good or ill, as 2007-2008 should have taught us. Some private citizens deserve more scrutiny than some elected officials, imo, and obviously vice-versa. Now you and I might have zero interest in the quality of a golf putter and the credentials of is inventor. However that information is extremely relevant for some people. Does that mean that golf equipment reporters have no right to be dogged in their pursuit of the truth because I think golf is a frivolous bullshit waste of time and resources? If reporters are going to err, I guess I’d rather they err on the side of disclosure rather than withholding.

    But I’m beginning to sense a certain defensiveness set in this discussion and recent replies to my posts have not seemed to focus on the substance of my arguments.
    Edit: Just read your edit so, but anyways I have to wrap this up. Thanks for the discussion and I do appreciate the pushback. Also I read her piece and it is thoughtful, though it goes a bit off the rails and loses focus in the middle in my opinion. Is it appropriate to write paragraph after paragraph of violence against trans people in order to respond to one questionable outing? It’s thoughtful, but I just don’t agree.

  88. 88
    kc says:

    @cokane:

    Did you see my edit before you wrote that? Just curious.

    Edited: I just saw your edit saying that you saw my other edit. :)

    All right, see you later.

  89. 89
    Botsplainer says:

    @gwangung:

    Journalists have gone through this with the gay community and have developed some practices to help deal with this.

    So the stenographers let the Log Cabin Republicans set the rules, which is why it is so damn difficult to identify gay wingnuts, gay wingnut staffers, gay wingnut think tank writers and unmask them while they power play against gay issues.

    Brilliant. Now the only time they get caught is when they go off on twink hookers and meth binges.

  90. 90
    Big R says:

    I guess my question for Grantland and the journalists in this thread would be, what happens if Dr. V’s credentials were legit, but under the name Stephen Krol? So she never lied about her credentials, but they were unverifiable for the piece without outing her?

    Saying, “oh, she’s legit, but if you try and fact-check our story nothing will add up but trust us that there’s things we can’t tell you” is not only bad journalism, it’s stupid. Maybe at that point you kill the piece, deciding there’s nothing really newsworthy about it. But then what do you tell Caleb Hannan? “Tough luck, kid, guess you get foreclosed on because you chased a rabbit hole of a story for most of a year, and now we aren’t paying for it”? I mean, I feel certain some might want just that. And I agree that the story as published is breathtakingly wrong. But a blanket ban on outing for journalists is also shaky. There might be times, such as my hypo here, where a person’s private, intimate life could be relevant to their public claims. I wonder how many of those excoriating Caleb Hannan, Bill Simmons, and Grantland right now were cheering the outing of Ted Haggard, the revelation of Jack Ryan’s kinks, or the downfall of Larry Craig? Each of those men were just as entitled to have their intimate lives protected as Dr. V. And the same justifications for outing them were offered as in this case.

    I don’t have any answers. But the conversation, from where I’m sitting, isn’t going anywhere productive either.

  91. 91
    Big R says:

    I guess my question for Grantland and the journalists in this thread would be, what happens if Dr. V’s credentials were legit, but under the name Stephen Krol? So she never lied about her credentials, but they were unverifiable for the piece without outing her?

    Saying, “oh, she’s legit, but if you try and fact-check our story nothing will add up but trust us that there’s things we can’t tell you” is not only bad journalism, it’s stupid. Maybe at that point you kill the piece, deciding there’s nothing really newsworthy about it. But then what do you tell Caleb Hannan? “Tough luck, kid, guess you get foreclosed on because you chased a rabbit hole of a story for most of a year, and now we aren’t paying for it”? I mean, I feel certain some might want just that. And I agree that the story as published is breathtakingly wrong. But a blanket ban on outing for journalists is also shaky. There might be times, such as my hypo here, where a person’s private, intimate life could be relevant to their public claims. I wonder how many of those excoriating Caleb Hannan, Bill Simmons, and Grantland right now were cheering the outing of Ted Haggard, the revelation of Jack Ryan’s kinks, or the downfall of Larry Craig? Each of those men were just as entitled to have their intimate lives protected as Dr. V. And the same justifications for outing them were offered as in this case.

    I don’t have any answers. But the conversation, from where I’m sitting, isn’t going anywhere productive either.

  92. 92
    lol says:

    @Nerull:

    So you say
    “The investigation into Dr. V was complicated by the fact that that’s not her birth name . Under her original identity, her credentials were not what was presented to investors blah blah blah”

    And the author would end up being attacked for implying that the sex change was part of the con.

    To put this in a different perspective, there’s nothing wrong with a sex fetish and the less we stigmatize that sort of thing the better. But people who bring up, say, Senator Vitter’s infidelity with prostitutes can’t help but constantly bring up the fact that he has a diaper fetish. How relevant is that?

    How relevant is Christie’s weight? How relevant are Coulter’s masculine features?

  93. 93
    kc says:

    For anyone who’s still hanging around, here is an interesting take on it.

  94. 94
    kc says:

    @Big R:

    I wonder how many of those excoriating Caleb Hannan, Bill Simmons, and Grantland right now were cheering the outing of Ted Haggard, the revelation of Jack Ryan’s kinks, or the downfall of Larry Craig?

    Um. . . guilty. At least in part. I didn’t actually cheer any of that, but, well, I laughed about some of it. God help me.

  95. 95
    CaseyL says:

    When I first heard about this (a couple of days ago, at Pharyngula), I had the same reaction as a lot of people: Caleb Hannan is a monster who drove someone to suicide, and should never be trusted with another article.

    Then I read the rest of the story, and the story itself, and have a very conflicted reaction.

    Hannan’s research into Dr V’s past revealed that many of the claims Dr V made about her experience, credentials, and expertise were lies. That information was pertinent to his article. He kept digging and in the process discovered that Dr. V is a trans. He put that information in the article as well, and is it for this that he is being excoriated.

    Having read the article, though, I honestly don’t see how he could have left that out. Dr. V seems not to have told the truth about anything, to anyone. Not about her credentials, her work experience, the secret projects she had worked on… all lies.

    Moreover, she had to know none of her claims of expertise or credentialing could be verified. She refused to give any information that might verify her claims – before he found out Dr. V was a trans, Hannan thought it might be reasonable that she had gone to MIT, etc., under another name, and he would have been happy to be able to confirm that. He wanted to believe her.

    She refused, for what now seems to be an obvious reason. According to the article, she once dropped a lawsuit rather than give any information about her past.

    In the ordinary course of events, people don’t go to the trouble of verifying credentials – but this was not an ordinary course of events; this was someone claiming fraudulent credentials in order to enhance her credibility as an inventor.

    It started to sound, to me, as though Dr V. made these inflated claims about herself precisely because she knew they could not be verified without her cooperation, and she wasn’t about to cooperate.

    It’s awful that she killed herself. But I wonder how much of the despair she felt was because she was about to be outed as a transsexual… and how much was because she was about to be outed as a complete fraud at everything else.

    I am very conflicted about this.

  96. 96
    Mathguy says:

    @kuvasz: Wow, that was an incredibly freaking moronic comment.

  97. 97
    Big R says:

    @kc: Hey, man, I get it. I chuckled too. And the circumstances surrounding Dr. V. make me uncomfortable. I agree with the people who say this piece was way over the line. But I don’t agree with Kahrl and other trans activists that involuntary outing is always and forever wrong and unwarranted. Like I said, what if the piece had turned out to be a paean to the brilliance of MIT physicist and transwoman Essay Vanderbilt, who happened to get her degrees, once upon a time, under the name of Stephen Krol? And a lengthy discussion of how she was going to revolutionize the game, and how her investors were getting huge returns, but none of them knew that her expertise came from a life that was pre-transition?

    I really don’t know if outing would have been appropriate then. But I think it’s a much harder question to answer.

  98. 98
    Cassidy says:

    @Big R: False equivalence. EAV’s gender and sexual persuasion had no bearing on the subject. It was discovered in the course of the investigation, but was a completely unimportant detail. Those other people you mentioned actively championed the dehumanization of people then were caught in the same activities they publicly condemned.

  99. 99
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Big R:

    But I don’t agree with Kahrl and other trans activists that involuntary outing is always and forever wrong and unwarranted.

    This was over a putter. A golf club.

    Seriously, people are getting all upset about a purported “fraudulent” golf club.

    I know golfers take their game seriously, but digging deep into someone’s background over whether or not a putter works the way its maker claims? Why not just take it out to the golf course, try it out, and report back? Why does adding in the story about her background add anything to the question of whether or not her invention works?

  100. 100
    Mnemosyne says:

    @CaseyL:

    Ron Popeil’s background probably has more than a few skeletons in it. Should he be fully investigated, or should people report on whether or not the shit he sells actually works?

    A golf club. A woman is dead over a fucking golf club.

  101. 101
    Keith G says:

    Dr V chose to enter and be active in a very public arena. She chose to create a very extravagant and fictional (even fraudulent) backstory to help her business pursuits, and she chose, eventually, to engage with the press.

    The reporter followed the story. It’s a shame that monsters haunting Dr V’s emotional universe lead her to suicide. Neither the reporter in question nor his story are among those monsters.

  102. 102
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Keith G:

    Golf. Club.

    She wasn’t claiming to have invented cold fusion or perpetual motion. It was a golf club. Did she really deserve to be pursued to the bitter end over what is essentially a toy?

  103. 103
    Fellatio Alger says:

    @Botsplainer: It? That’s pretty damned offensive.

  104. 104
    Big R says:

    @Cassidy: I thought somebody would pick up on that one. I did not expect it to be you.

    I get the false equivalence argument, and don’t mind if you dismiss that part of my thinking for that reason. My response is twofold:

    1) There’s a lot of things I’m thinking about in that comment that aren’t encompassed in that particular statement. I’m sorry if people felt I was finger-wagging at false hypocrisy, and I know it could have felt that way. So I’m sorry, because I don’t want anyone to think I’m implying that they’re hypocrites. But it leaves an awful lot of discourse on the table, and I hope people will start talking about the broader issues I raised.

    2) For me, I’m not convinced that there is a false equivalence. Before you jump on me, let me explain. For me, the condemnations from Haggard and Craig could be dismissed without having to expose their private conduct. In other words, they were wrong before they were hypocrites, which to my mind made their hypocrisy irrelevant. Thus, outing them accomplished nothing except publicly humiliating and shaming them – like Dr. V. You may disagree, and that’s okay.

    As far as Jack Ryan was concerned, I’ll admit to not remembering a whole lot from the 2004 Illinois Senate race, but Ryan struck me as a Chamber of Commerce-bot, not a G-dbotherer. Which would, if true, make outing him precisely comparable to what was done to Dr. V.

  105. 105
    Fellatio Alger says:

    @Botsplainer: Ah. Now I see. You’re not a serious person. Good to know.

  106. 106
    Penus says:

    As a former sportswriter and a daily Grantland reader, I’m extremely conflicted about this story. It was certainly poorly executed – it was written in a way that’s extremely offensive to transgendered people, starting with the gender pronouns used. Grantland ran this one day after a music story about a singer who transitioned from male to female at the height of her career, and that story made none of the same mistakes this one did. Did the same people not edit those stories?

    The big reveal should have been that she was lying about herself (claiming to be a Vanderbilt) for financial benefit. Her being transgender has nothing to do with that, but it was inappropriately tied into that narrative (and extremely inartfully, to boot).

    A cis woman who lied about her credentials and identity to that point to get that much of someone else’s money would be an equally big story, at least in the context of the industry it’s related to.

  107. 107
    Big R says:

    @Mnemosyne: The short answer is that the piece you want is a club review. Grantland doesn’t do that. Grantland is investigative sports journalism.

    The long answer is that the club wasn’t really revolutionary. It was okay, but nothing special. What made it special was the positive contagion effects of a) McCord’s enthusiasm and b) Dr. V’s purported credentials. Hannan investigated both aspects, explaining the scientific bases of positive contagion and showing the emptiness of Dr. V’s claimed expertise.

    He had no way of knowing that his investigation would lead to a death, and I’m not convinced that his ignorance or negligence contributed to her death. And to be perfectly honest, you don’t know why she killed herself either. And no one ever will.

  108. 108
    Keith G says:

    @Mnemosyne: Golf equipment is a billion dollar business. The designers of top equipment are feted and wealthy and often become legendary. She wasn’t designing a new knitting needle. She chose to enter a highly competitive arena full of obsessive fans, obsessive equipment users, and obsessive press. She got money from backers.

    She chose to up the anti by making up a high profile and attention grabbing personal backstory which on its surface begged for verification. And then she chose to talk to a reporter.

    She was the author of her destiny. She was the one who needed an editor.

  109. 109
    Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN) says:

    @Mnemosyne: Mon. Ey. She went to people and said, “I’m a brilliant physicist with degrees from MIT and Wharton. I’ve worked on secret government projects. Because of all of this expertise and experience, I know how to build a great golf club. Please give me money for this endeavor.”

    That’s fraud, both legally and ethically. Once you’ve opened that door you’ve committed a crime. She has also gone to customers and said the same thing. “Give me your money. Here’s why you should.”

    Is it silly that people worry that much about their golf clubs? Maybe, but they do. And Dr. V lied to them in order to get it.

    Investigating her background is PERFECTLY reasonable in those circumstances. If you don’t want people digging into your background, don’t take out advertisements using false claims about it in order to get them to give you money. Hannan would have been derelict in his duties if he hadn’t. And once it all starts falling into place, where does it stop? His choices writing the article would have been to out her, to say that he couldn’t find out her background (which would have been lying to his readers), or say that he found out her background but that he won’t say what it is (which would have raised all of the red flags about someone who had made herself a public fixture). None of them are good solutions.

    As for telling the investor, he’s in something of the same spot. He shouldn’t have told him that she was trans, but it is perfectly valid, in fact almost required, that he tell him that her background is fraudulent and then get his reaction.

    The person in this that I really want to know about is Gary McCord. He pitched those putters constantly, including all of that background that he hadn’t verified. He even says that he watched Vanderbilt talk to Dan Quayle and that he knew her. Really? Was he lying? Someone really ought to be asking him questions. And he definitely was derelict for pitching the club without checking on what he was saying.

  110. 110
    Cassidy says:

    @Big R: I see what you’re saying, but I look at it like this. If someone were doing an investigative piece on Ted Haggard, discovered his sexual proclivities, and outed him in the process, then I could see a similar situation. The people you mentioned though, weren’t “outed” by anyone but themselves. Our joy in the irony and hypocrisy isn’t central to anything. Ms. EAV, otoh, was outed, straight up, no bullshit, against her will, if she hadn’t committed suicide would have been publicly outed and it had zero bearing in the story. For me, the comparison doesn’t work.

  111. 111
    Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN) says:

    @Mnemosyne: If Ron Popeil is making claims about his background as a part of his sales pitch, yes it is worth investigating them.

  112. 112
    Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN) says:

    @Cassidy: That Vanderbilt was trans had zero direct bearing on the story but once you step into a web of lies as deep as Vanderbilt had built is very difficult to find a stopping point. It ends up that she was trying to use the fact that she was trans to help hide fraud. If you can’t publish the story or have to publish it with obvious holes you make the writer complicit with your crime.

    And she did lie about her identity. Not the gender, per se, but she was asked whether she had attended school under a different name. Under normal circumstances it would clearly be wrong to investigate her gender identity but this wasn’t an ordinary circumstance. And the reason it wasn’t an ordinary circumstance was because Vanderbilt was engaged in illegal activities, namely fraud. And my sympathy level goes down dramatically when you are outed as a result of your own illegal and unethical behavior. Same with Larry Craig.

  113. 113
    Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN) says:

    As for the whole thing only being a story because of the titillation factor, please. Hannan had worked on it for six months before learning that she was trans. The editors at Grantland had been supporting him for that long. It was a story without that.

  114. 114
    Cassidy says:

    @Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN): I understand what you mean, but I’m not gonna get behind that. I can separate the unethical, possibly
    Illegal, behavior that was relevant to the story from the info about her sexual identity and I don’t see how one had to be divulged in relation to the other. It could have been done. Secondly, when it comes to trans people, considering the level of bigotry aimed at them, they get a lot of leeway from me if they choose to not be upfront about that aspect of their life.

  115. 115
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Big R:
    @Keith G:
    @Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN):

    A golf club is a toy. Nothing more. And the reporter decided to hound a woman to death over a toy.

  116. 116
    Keith G says:

    @Mnemosyne: “There are none so blind as those who will not see. The most deluded people are those who choose to ignore what they already know.”
    -Jonathan Swift (maybe)

  117. 117
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Keith G:

    Hey, sorry, I didn’t realize you were a golfer. I know you guys are obsessed with your game.

    But golf is a game. And a golf club is a toy. People are comparing her to Vitter and other crooked politicians when her “crime” was to try and sell a new and improved toy.

  118. 118
    brent says:

    I think its horrible that this story ended the way it did and I agree with some that say that the author should have shown a great deal more sensitivity in language and tone. But having read the story, it seems to me that its simply implausible that once the author got started investigating her claims that

    1. he could have avoided finding out details that she wished to keep hidden

    and

    2. he could have written the story without including a pretty compelling explanation as to why it was so difficult to verify her story.

    On 1, I can hardly believe that there is much room to argue here. A journalist is faced with a number of assertions which he cannot verify. How does he not follow that up without digging into her personal life?

    On 2, I can certainly imagine a story that tried to leave out the gender details but aside from the fact that it wouldn’t make a whole lot of sense without some contextualization for why the truth was so hard to find, the attempt to shield the truth of her gender transition wouldn’t last more than a couple hours after the story broke given the allegations therein. That is, once everyone was told that this fairly well know person was not telling the truth about her credentials, it was never going to take very long for someone else to find out more about her history.

    Writing the story at all always meant she was going to be outed. Maybe one can argue that that does not give the author the right to blurt it out first but outing was always going to be the result and he was always going to bear a significant part of the responsibility for that. And that would be true whether he was an asshole about it or not.

    So criticizing his approach is certainly fair and warranted but really, the idea that he could have somehow avoided the details here seems poorly supported.

  119. 119
    Big R says:

    @Mnemosyne: Hyperbolizing the reporter’s role doesn’t help your argument. He did no such thing.

  120. 120
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Big R:

    Comparing the inventor of a golf club to Ted Haggard, David Vitter, and Jack Ryan — even, as one person did, to Bernie Madoff — is not hyperbole?

    I realize that boys take their toys very seriously, and the rest of us are supposed to pretend their toys are very serious, too, but this reporter was investigating a golf club.

  121. 121
    Dirty Aussie says:

    There is one paragraph in the story that everyone seems to be overlooking:

    Now, Jordan’s message said she was calling to propose a deal. When I phoned her back, Jordan explained the offer. I could fly to Arizona and meet with Dr. V at her attorney’s office, where she would show me proof of her degrees from both MIT and the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. V then got on the phone and added another detail. Once I saw the documents I would have to sign a nondisclosure agreement barring me from revealing any of the details I’d learned about Dr. V’s past.

    It is possible she was not a fraud. She was not convicted of any crime and we are only taking the journalist’s word that these degrees do not exist (or that he could not find them). It is entirely possible that she may have had these degrees and no fraud was committed. Unfortunately, she is no longer around to defend herself.

  122. 122
    Violet says:

    @Mnemosyne: A golf club is a product in a business. A big business, with professionals who compete all over the world for lots of money using those products. And average people who buy them as well.

    Don’t you work for a corporation that specializes in children’s entertainment? That’s just kids’ stuff, right? Toys and all. Not a business, right?

  123. 123
    Mnemosyne says:

    And, yes, this outburst was triggered by reading the article that kc linked to, which reminded me that we’re having our high-minded and sober discussion about gender identity and fraud over a frickin’ golf club.

  124. 124
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Violet:

    Sure, it’s a business. The business is, are you entertained or not? Once that question is answered, what questions really remain?

    Let’s use a famous transperson as an example: Lana Wachowski, formerly known as Larry Wachowski, one of the co-directors of The Matrix and its sequels, among other films. Did The Matrix 3 suck because she’s transgender, or was it a crappy, poorly thought-out movie?

    ETA: Now add in the question: when Lana co-directed the film while she was still Larry, did she commit fraud? And was that fraud the reason the sequels sucked?

  125. 125
    Keith G says:

    @Mnemosyne: As happens your assumptions are off. I have never played a round. I do read newspapers and their digital off shoots.

    I also value truth. And as a GLBT community activist and volunteer for many years, I have a distaste for false victimization. There are more than enough real victims of the horrendous deeds of hateful others. So we do not need do further damage by making false claims when one has actually only been the victim of their own bad choices.

    Now that is not to say that “Dr” V. had never been the target of ill will from an uncaring society. Undoubtedly she had. But in the specific issues we are addressing here, she implemented a plan,she took enormous and obvious risks in her comercial dealing with others (eg taking investor money). Her fate lay at the end of a path she chose.

    Blaming the reporter is to rob her of her agency as an adult. Some of my friends and companions in our community are only the victims of their own regrettable choices.

  126. 126
    Violet says:

    @Mnemosyne: Golf is entertaining to some people. Movies and theme parks are to others. There’s no right or wrong in what entertains people. Golf is a big business. Clubs are some of the tools of the business. For Giant Entertainment Corp, the tools are whatever those are– cameras, lighting, computers, whatever. If a better tool comes along then Giant Entertainment Corp wants it and the creator of said tool makes a lot of money. It’s a business.

    As for Matrix 3, I haven’t seen it so don’t know if it sucks or not. Have no idea if the director’s personal issues have any impact on it. Sometimes actors’ or directors’ personal issues can be seen in their work.

    Why would the director directing the movie pre-transition be fraud? Now if the director lied about directing the movies at all, that would be fraud.

  127. 127
    brent says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Sure, it’s a business. The business is, are you entertained or not? Once that question is answered, what questions really remain?

    That, I think you know, doesn’t describe the business at all. The business, in this circumstance is, is based around the question of if person X’s product is a reliable investment of a great deal of person Y’s money. One of the factors that person Y might use to make that judgment, whether I am right or wrong, is person X’s credentials. To the extent that person X claims about those credentials are false, then yes, it is possible to describe as fraud. No one, anywhere in this story, claims that her transgender itself was the fraudulent claim, just that her being transgender was what made it difficult to verify her claims. So your example of Lana Wachowski is entirely offbase. Her claim of investment for her films is not based upon false claims.

  128. 128
    Jamey says:

    @Big R: Did Dr. Vanderbilt use her public platform to legislate against rights for golfers while also privately being a golfer herself? No? Then shut the fuck up about Larry Craig and David Vitter, who displayed appalling hypocrisy and in doing so, caused great harm to others–and who were exposed not for being gay or freaky, but for engaging in acts they took public positions against. Larry Craig’s sexuality matters when he’s using elected office as a platform for crusading against equal rights for Americans on the basis of their sexuality. How do you tell the story of Larry Craig cruising for sex in men’s rooms–a public offense in the jurisdiction in which he was arraigned–without telling the story about Larry Craig cruising for sex in men’s rooms? Craig got there first with a denial that he was gay; he set the narrative. Nobody outed him.

    Vitter? Meh, guy likes to play in his own shit. Each to his own. But he should have kept his personal vision of morality to himself, along with his personal peccadilloes.

  129. 129
    Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN) says:

    @Mnemosyne: In other words, you believe that if you don’t think something is important it it can’t be the subject of fraud. Sorry, but the world doesn’t work that way. If there are a lot of other people who think that something is important enough that they are willing to pay money for it, it is illegal to sell it to them under false pretenses. That’s true even if it is a toy.

    Get over yourself.

  130. 130
    Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN) says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Let’s use a famous transperson as an example: Lana Wachowski, formerly known as Larry Wachowski, one of the co-directors of The Matrix and its sequels, among other films. Did The Matrix 3 suck because she’s transgender, or was it a crappy, poorly thought-out movie?

    That you would write this means that you either really don’t understand what fraud is or that you are willing to pretend that you don’t in this instance. I suspect that it’s the latter.

    Did Wachowski use her background as one of the selling points of the movie? If she did, did she lie about it? The answers are no, and no. So there was no fraud.

    Stop pretending that you’re a moron so that you can indulge your sense of outrage.

  131. 131
    Keith G says:

    @brent: That’s the thing. Ms. V’s (She was not a doctor after all) biggest problem was not her trans status. It would have been investor mistrust due to the fabric of lies that she had created. Even if the story had not printed her status, one could imagine her panic has her con job about her academic and government careers melted away and the lawyers started calling.

    Litigation discovery would have made that lil ol reporter and his story seem like tea with Aunt Pitty Pat. That may well be the reason for her last act – an outcome not dependent on her being “outed”

  132. 132
    Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN) says:

    @Dirty Aussie: The problem with that is that Vanderbilt had ample opportunities to demonstrate that she had the degrees. And the caveat to that offer was an absolute deal killer; after being jerked around for ten months, Hannan was expected to agree to sign a non-disclosure agreement no matter what the documents he was shown said. There is no way he could agree to that and he rightly turned it down.

  133. 133
    Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN) says:

    @Keith G: In addition, it was the fact of litigation that meant that Hannan had to keep digging until he had the whole story. What had started out as a piece that was going to explore the marvelously wacky of a mysterious, beautiful physicist that designed a better golf club despite not playing the game herself had become one that was going to accuse her of being a crook. Before you can print that piece, you had damned well better have all of the bases covered. Once the lies had started, Hannan was obligated to find out the whole story.

    And, as you point out, once Vanderbilt was exposed as a crook, the fact that she was trans would have swiftly followed. The ONLY option that doesn’t lead to her being outed is spiking the piece. I really don’t think the trans community really wants to go down that road, in which we declare that we won’t expose criminals for the sole reason that they are stealth trans.

  134. 134
    kc says:

    @Keith G:

    Litigation discovery? Lawyers? What for? The farkin’ golf club WORKED.

  135. 135
    Dirty Aussie says:

    @Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN): I have no idea if she had ample opportunity to confirm her degrees. Nor do I suspect, do you. All we have to rely on is the reporter’s story. And in his writing, he claims that he contacted her for comment on what he had found (after outing her to the investor). She then replied with her offer to confirm her credentials at the lawyers office. Of course she would not have offered earlier if the degrees had male names on them. Which, you know, would have destroyed her world.

    But I am simply raising the point that there is no concrete proof she was a fraud. All we have is one side of the story – one that exhibits a distinct lack of compassion no matter what the facts.

  136. 136
    Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN) says:

    @kc: You seem to have missed much of the point of the article. To some extent, that’s because Hannan didn’t completely flesh out some of what is going on. He discusses the psychological element of a club but doesn’t really get to all of it.

    Even what he does say shows how this is fraud, though. A fair amount of the improvement that putters saw stemmed from their belief in the club’s provenance. It is similar to the placebo effect. So the sales pitch is a part of the product. If that pitch is a lie, that’s fraud.

    That doesn’t cover all of it, though. What Hannan doesn’t get to is that the vast majority of people who buy a set of golf clubs really have no idea whether it has helped them or not. They generally think they do, but they don’t. Most of the time the improvement that they see is an illusion. They can buy into it because the variance in their results due to variations in their swing is greater than the variance produced by the difference in clubs. Because of that they can convince themselves of almost anything whether it’s true or not.

    My father was a very serious tennis player. He played on the varsity team at the Division III level when he was in college and played multiple times almost every week from then until his doctors told him to quit when he was 68. He always marveled at what people would spend on a tennis racket. He’d point out that almost all of the people buying $500 tennis rackets would be better off spending $100 on one and then the other $400 on lessons. He included himself in that group, although he did enjoy the expensive racket my mother finally bought him for Christmas one year.

    The same is true of the vast majority of golfers and their clubs. But the sales pitch for a club manufacturer can convince them otherwise. If that pitch is at least true, then it’s just kind of sleazy to convince people to buy stuff against their own nature. But if you make a false sales pitch, that’s fraud.

  137. 137
    Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN) says:

    @Dirty Aussie: Read the story again, because you’re wrong. Hannan made an attempt to get Vanderbilt’s side of the story after learning that she was trans. The only reply he got was one from Jordan that accused him of writing the equivalent of stories about Martians in a tabloid.

    And note that when Hannan turned down the offer, Vanderbilt didn’t tell him not to publish because she was trans. She accused him of trying to destroy the company. It was only after that conversation that Vanderbilt made the hate crime comment and it came buried in an email that included allegations that publishing the story would reveal classified information. Even at this point, Vanderbilt kept piling on the lies. What the hell was he supposed to think at that point?

  138. 138
    Mnemosyne says:

    @brent:

    One of the factors that person Y might use to make that judgment, whether I am right or wrong, is person X’s credentials. To the extent that person X claims about those credentials are false, then yes, it is possible to describe as fraud.

    David Geffen very famously claimed to the agency that first employed him in the mailroom that he had graduated from UCLA. When the agency sent a query to UCLA, Geffen intercepted the letter from UCLA saying, David who? and substituted a forged letter confirming his nonexistent degree.

    Fraud? Absolutely. But should he have been hounded out of the business instead of being allowed to tell it as a funny dinner party story (which is how he uses the story to this day)?

    @Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN):

    If that pitch is at least true, then it’s just kind of sleazy to convince people to buy stuff against their own nature. But if you make a false sales pitch, that’s fraud.

    According to the story, the club helped some golfers, but not others. Show us the scientific study with a double-blind club demonstrating that V’s club did not, in fact, improve anyone’s game.

    The Boston Red Sox grew beards before the World Series. Placebo effect, or fraud?

  139. 139
    kc says:

    @Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN):

    This is getting pretty far afield from the point of THIS post, which is how Hannan dealt with the inventor’s trans identity.

  140. 140
    Han says:

    @Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN): I am confused as to the point you are trying to make. Apparently, belief in the club is responsible for improvement. It’s placebo. But belief comes from the sales pitch. If the pitch is a lie, it’s fraud. If it’s placebo, how can ANY pitch be anything BUT fraud? In which case no one can use a sales pitch to sell their clubs.

  141. 141
    Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN) says:

    @Dirty Aussie: Note also that we are not just relying on Caleb Hannan. Any conversation that was conducted by email was forwarded to his editors. So your scenario relies upon a lot of people lying, not just Hannan.

  142. 142
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Han:

    Plus we’re getting into sports superstitions, which are themselves a thorny area. If a hockey player believes that wrapping red tape around the handle of their stick improves their game, is it really true, or is it just a placebo?

    As far as I know, no one said that the club didn’t work at all. It didn’t break after two games or make you play worse than before. It just wasn’t the revolutionary improvement that its inventor claimed, any more than the Pocket Hose is a revolutionary improvement over a regular old garden hose or Signature Needle Arts needles make you knit better than the Susan Bates brand.

  143. 143
    kc says:

    @Han:

    Heck, Hannan himself says:

    Yes, Dr. V had fabricated a résumé that helped sell the Oracle putter under false pretenses. But she was far from the first clubmaker to attach questionable scientific value to a piece of equipment just to make it more marketable.

  144. 144
    Dirty Aussie says:

    @Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN): You are right. He emailed her, Jordan wrote back. A few months passed, then the voicemail offer of confirming the degrees. How does this change anything? This lady was obviously panic stricken. Her world was being destroyed by someone.

    How on Earth do you know what she said? To quote the author again:

    “What is your intention?” she asked. “Are you being paid by someone to destroy Yar?” Dr. V’s anger made it so that what she said came out fast and with almost no interruption. I tried to record everything she said and ask the occasional question, but it was like yelling into a wind tunnel. When she finally had said her piece, she handed the phone back to Jordan.

    It sounds like she said quite a bit. That is the one thing he reported on.

    As to what he was to think at that point? That he was dealing with someone going through a serious crisis, maybe? That he might have something to do with this? That the one investor in the company couldn’t care less about what he had found (the only possible victim of any legal fraud)? This was worth destroying a life over?

  145. 145
    Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN) says:

    @Mnemosyne: Yup. Still pretending to idiocy. I’ll repeat: people buy based upon the sales pitch. The sales pitch was a lie. That’s fraud. Whether there are any scientific studies one way or the other is completely irrelevant to the question of whether there was fraud. That would only be the criterion to judge by if the efficacy of the club had been the only part of the sales pitch.

    The funny thing is that you were one of the people clinging to an inappropriately broad definition of fraud when it came to mortgage products. You not only are flexible in your definition of it, you’re flexible in your wrong definitions of it, too.

    Go to bed.

  146. 146
    Mnemosyne says:

    Okay, last thing before getting ready for bed:

    To me, “fraud” in this kind of case would be presenting a product to investors and taking their money knowing that the product could not be produced — IOW, that it was vaporware. The fact that the product worked fine as a golf club but didn’t necessarily radically improve everyone’s game, to me, does not rise to the level of “fraud.”

    V killed herself before the golf club went into production, and there’s no claim as far as I know that Fraud A was happening. The claims of Fraud B — it wasn’t as completely awesome and life-changing as she claimed! — seem tenuous at best because, again, we’re discussing a toy. It’s not cold fusion or perpetual motion — it’s a toy that you use to play a game that’s already steeped in superstition and placebo. If the Eggies you bought off late-night TV don’t work as well as they did in the commercial, is that prosecutable fraud, or is it a stupid plastic piece of crap you should return for a refund?

  147. 147
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN):

    I’ll repeat: people buy based upon the sales pitch. The sales pitch was a lie. That’s fraud.

    No, that’s marketing. Fraud is getting investors to give you money based upon the sales pitch and never producing the product you pitched to them. No one, including the writer of the original article, is claiming that V never intended to produce a working product that could be sold.

    Again, if overselling a product is “fraud,” then you must spend a lot of time writing letters to your local DA demanding that they remove infomercials from your TV because the overblown claims the manufacturers make are clearly fraud.

  148. 148
    Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN) says:

    @Dirty Aussie:

    . . . the only possible victim of any legal fraud . . .

    No. For god’s sake, no. This is absolutely not true. Everyone who bought the club under false pretenses was a victim of the fraud.

    And, sure, Vanderbilt was in a crisis. Maybe that’s because she’d spent several years defrauding investors and customers and Hannan was about to expose her. And if you are going through a crisis because your illegal actions are about to be exposed, I lack sympathy for you.

    There seem to to be a bunch of people in this thread who think that it’s okay to get people to give you their money by lying to them so long as you are trans. I absolutely reject that. Exposure of the fraud was not only justified, it was Hannan’s DUTY to do it. The issue of Vanderbilt’s sexuality could have been handled more decently in the piece but hiding behind it to shield fraud is just wrong. And thinking that her sexuality would have remained secret after the piece had been published without mentioning it is delusional.

  149. 149
    Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN) says:

    @Mnemosyne: Go study up on fraud because what you are saying is flat out wrong.

    Edited to Add: What Vanderbilt did is not overselling. Overselling, actually called “puffery,” has an actual definition in the law; it’s making claims that are obviously puffed up and shouldn’t be believed. Saying, “This is the best product you’ll ever use,” is puffery. Statements about your specific qualifications are not. If those are false, it’s fraud.

  150. 150
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN):

    Everyone who bought the club under false pretenses was a victim of the fraud.

    These Mr. Lid containers cracked in the dishwasher! I’m a victim of the fraud!

    Also, the marketing of Frozen completely misled me as to the content of the film. I’m starting a class action lawsuit against Disney for defrauding moviegoers.

  151. 151
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN):

    Saying, “This is the best product you’ll ever use,” is puffery. Statements about your specific qualifications are not. If those are false, it’s fraud.

    You’re conflating puffery with fraud, though. Her investors could have sued her for fraud when they found out she faked her credentials, because they were giving her cash money based on those credentials.

    The consumers who actually bought the product could not sue for fraud, because her credentials are immaterial to whether or not the product works. As far as the end user is concerned, her credentials are part of the puffery. What they can do as consumers is return the product for a refund, unless they were actually injured by it (say, the design of it caused rotator cuff injuries). But even then, their lawsuit would be over a defective product, not over her credentials.

    ETA: Fradulent product =/= fraudulent credentials, no matter how you try to claim they’re the same. If the golf club works, will a judge really care that the inventor claimed she had credentials that she didn’t actually have?

  152. 152
    Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN) says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    To me, “fraud” in this kind of case would be presenting a product to investors and taking their money knowing that the product could not be produced — IOW, that it was vaporware.

    That may be your personal definition of fraud but it is neither the standardly accepted definition nor the legal definition. Don;t be surprised when the rest of the world chooses not to use your own idiosyncratic definitions.

    V killed herself before the golf club went into production, and there’s no claim as far as I know that Fraud A was happening.

    I have no idea where you came up with this but it’s as wrong as everything else you’re writing. Here’s a review of a Yar putter from 2009.

  153. 153
    Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN) says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    The consumers who actually bought the product could not sue for fraud, because her credentials are immaterial to whether or not the product works.

    You don’t understand fraud. End of story. Puffery must be a subjective statement.

    Go educate yourself.

  154. 154
    kc says:

    @Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN):

    Everyone who bought the club under false pretenses was a victim of the fraud.

    Oh for the love of Christ. No.

    Talk about losing the fucking thread.

  155. 155
    kc says:

    @Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN):

    Maybe you could get a class action put together. Sue her estate.

  156. 156
  157. 157
    Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN) says:

    @kc: Not me. I don’t play golf. But I’m sorry if you don’t like the legal definition of fraud. Or maybe you believe that fraud is okay if no particular individual is out enough money to justify suing. That does not, in fact, change the legality of the actions.

  158. 158
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN):

    You still have not shown us a case where a consumer — not an investor, a consumer — brought a successful fraud case based on the claimed credentials of the product’s inventor. Again, the case will need to be based not on a claim of a defective or deceptive product, but solely on the claimed credentials of the inventor.

    Go. Find us the caselaw.

  159. 159
    brent says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Fraud? Absolutely. But should he have been hounded out of the business instead of being allowed to tell it as a funny dinner party story (which is how he uses the story to this day)?

    Frankly, your examples are getting worse. No one “hounded” anyone out of anywhere in this story and the fact that you need to manufacture a narrative of harassment in order to persist in this discussion should tell you something about the inherent weakness of your underlying argument.

    What you would really have to argue here in order to remain even minimally consistent is that Geffen’s fraud should not have been reported. What the author did here is find out the truth about some false claims and decide to report them. As I have pointed out, he certainly could have shown greater sensitivity to his subject, but really, as I, and others have also pointed out, the only way that V’s gender orientation would remain secret would be to spike the story.

    If you want to argue that spiking would have been the most morally balanced decision, then ok. I don’t think you would have much of a case but I can at least see the contours of a reasonable argument there. But to pretend that there was no reason to report the truth here because golf is not important or because lying about credentials is inconsequential or because the act of reporting is tantamount to harassment, as you have variably argued throughout this thread, is uncharacteristically weak tea from you.

  160. 160
    Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN) says:

    @Mnemosyne: http://www.schinnerer.com/indu.....nting.aspx

    That took me about two minutes.

  161. 161
    kc says:

    @Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN):

    I know that damages are an essential element of fraud, so apparently I know more than you.

    Your thread-derailing skills are pretty awesome, though.

  162. 162
    Suzanne says:

    While I am sympathetic to Mnem’s point that this gizmo was just a golf club and certainly not worth the eventual price paid, I do know that any specific, verifiable claim that ends up being untrue is indeed fraudulent. And, having worked in marketing for a few years, I really, truly believe that upholding a culture of honesty is important, even worth destroying a woman’s career for.

    But I said CAREER, not her personal life. I concede that there was no good ending to this story—V’s trans status seems to be unavoidably linked to her fraud. What is the “lesson” going forward? Obviously Hannan was wrong to out her to the investor, but V would not be the first person to commit suicide in the face of professional ruin tied to criminality, and I don’t think reporters should tiptoe around those issues because those people are potentially mentally unstable. Should people who are stealth avoid gaining prominence in business or education? That’s not a good answer, either, but I have no better one.

  163. 163
    Mnemosyne says:

    @brent:

    No one “hounded” anyone out of anywhere in this story and the fact that you need to manufacture a narrative of harassment in order to persist in this discussion should tell you something about the inherent weakness of your underlying argument.

    There’s a corpse who might disagree with you, but we’ll need an Ouija board to get her side of the story.

    But to pretend that there was no reason to report the truth here because golf is not important or because lying about credentials is inconsequential or because the act of reporting is tantamount to harassment, as you have variably argued throughout this thread, is uncharacteristically weak tea from you.

    My argument, which I did take some time to develop, is that her (presumed) fraudulent credentials are immaterial to whether or not the final product works, just as Geffen’s lack of a college degree was immaterial to whether or not he was a successful record producer.

    For consumers who purchased the putter, her credentials are a red herring. And, yes, I am astonished that tracking down the credentials of the inventor of a new golf putter was so frickin’ important to the world that the reporter had to ruin her life to do it.

  164. 164
    kc says:

    @Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN):

    It took me 20 seconds to see that case has something this story doesn’t: Damages.

    In fact, the builder did not have any prior experience as an independent builder, and constructed the plaintiffs’ homes using inferior materials and grossly substandard construction techniques

  165. 165
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN):

    Bzzt. Fail. Read your own example:

    The appellate court held that the plaintiffs need not prove under the Consumer Fraud Act that the defendant broker had actual knowledge of the builder’s lack of credentials and poor construction methods. The broker’s liability under the Act was based solely upon the broker’s misrepresentations about the credentials and expertise of the builder who had listed his lots for sale with the broker. (emphasis mine)

    The plaintiffs proved that the brokers themselves acted fraudulently, plus the basis of the case was the defective product the brokers were helping to sell. You still have to find me a case based solely on fraudulent credentials without a defective product, which was what I asked for.

  166. 166
    Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN) says:

    @kc: Damages are the amount paid for the club because it is not what was represented in the advertising, namely invented by the genius physicist.

  167. 167
    Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN) says:

    @kc: Which is why the builder was guilty of fraud. The broker, who was the defendant in the case, was responsible only for stating the credentials.

  168. 168
    Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN) says:

    @Mnemosyne: The only way in which the broker acted fraudulently was by stating the credentials. If falsely stating them wasn’t a tort, how were they found guilty?

  169. 169
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Suzanne:

    I do know that any specific, verifiable claim that ends up being untrue is indeed fraudulent.

    A specific, verifiable claim about the product itself, or about the product’s inventor?

    I think part of the problem is that there are two separate groups here: the investors, who I think do have a good case of arguing that she committed fraud when she used false credentials to get money from them; and the consumers, who I do not think have a case for claiming that her credential problem impacted whether or not the end product worked.

    I’m only arguing that it’s silly to say that the consumers who bought the putter were “defrauded” by the club’s inventor claiming she had credentials she didn’t. The investors are a totally different story, and someone could probably make a case that the story was written to inform the investors in the company who didn’t know about the fraudulent credentials. So far, though, I’ve only heard the cries from people asking us to think about the poor, defrauded consumer.

  170. 170
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN):

    The only way in which the broker acted fraudulently was by stating the credentials. If falsely stating them wasn’t a tort, how were they found guilty?

    Did you miss the part where they were not stating their own credentials, but someone else’s?

    ETA: Plus you forgot about the element of the defective product. No one but you is claiming that the putters are defective, so using a case of defective homebuilding to prove it was all about the credentials is misleading, to say the least.

  171. 171
    Suzanne says:

    @Mnemosyne: Credentials of the product’s inventor, if their credentials are stated in order to lend credibility to their claims, would indeed be fraudulent. It is taking money and making a claim to authority under false pretenses. Not okay.

    This is the only issue I think Kahrl skates over in her piece, which is otherwise excellent. What Dr. V did, if she really was indeed lying, is a crime, and if so, she deserves to be humiliated and take a serious hit to her career. Maybe her career should be over. If we allow false advertising in the marketplace because the product isn’t important, we destroy what little remains in the market that consumers can trust. I think that is a huge loss.

  172. 172
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Suzanne:

    Credentials of the product’s inventor, if their credentials are stated in order to lend credibility to their claims, would indeed be fraudulent.

    Then Ron Popeil should be in jail, yes? After all, he claims to be the inventor of everything he sells in his infomercials, even though he’s not.

    ETA: And, again, I think you’re conflating defrauding investors and defrauding consumers.

  173. 173
    kc says:

    @Suzanne:

    Dr. V did, if she really was indeed lying, is a crime, and if so, she deserves to be humiliated and take a serious hit to her career. Maybe her career should be over.

    Her life is over, but maybe we should dig her up and kill her again.

  174. 174
    Mnemosyne says:

    Though I have to say, this thread does give me some hope that we can eventually jail “Dr.” Laura Schlessinger, who uses her PhD in physiology to make people think she’s a psychologist. (She eventually got an MFT certification, but that’s not the same thing as being a psychologist.) And “Dr.” Barbara De Angelis can have the next cell over since her “PhD” came from a diploma mill.

  175. 175
    Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN) says:

    Not case law, but here is a South Dakota statute that pertains very well to this:

    13-1-53. False claims concerning degree, certificate, diploma, or transcript prohibited for certain purposes–Violation as misdemeanor. No person, for the following purposes, may knowingly use any false degree, certificate, diploma, transcript, or other document indicating that the person has completed an organized program of study or completed courses when the person has not completed the organized program of study or the courses indicated on the degree, certificate, diploma, transcript, or document or falsely claim to have any valid degree, certificate, diploma, transcript, or other such document:

    (1) To obtain employment;

    (2) To obtain a promotion or higher compensation in employment;

    (3) To obtain admission to postsecondary education; or

    (4) In connection with any business, trade, profession, or occupation.

    A violation of this section is a Class 1 misdemeanor.

  176. 176
    Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN) says:

    And quite aside from the legal aspect I think it’s worth stepping back and just looking at the behavior you are defending. Vanderbilt flat out lied to anyone who invested in her company or bought her putter. You are coming up with all sorts of evasions for why we shouldn’t care about that and I find it pretty off the wall. Even if what she did was legal, and I frankly think you have to stretch the plain meaning of false advertising laws to arrive at that conclusion, how in the world can you argue that it wasn’t unethical and deserved to be exposed?

    I’m going to ask this again, straight up: is it your contention that we should ignore someone lying to their customers on the grounds that the person is a stealth trans? Is that the message you want to send to the world? Don’t trust trans because if they’re lying to you to get you to buy something, we’re on their side?

  177. 177
    BethanyAnne says:

    Probably a dead thread, but here is the story rewritten to avoid outing the woman. http://si.arrr.net/device/2014.....-the-fact/

    It looks to me like Vanderbilt knew that she had been outed to the investor before the reporter said he was going to go ahead and publish the story. Pretty obvious from her “You’re about to commit a hate crime” that she knew he was going to out her as transgender.

  178. 178
    BethanyAnne says:

    There are 2 pieces from cisgender journalists that have caught my eye. Here is Alyssa Rosenberg’s “4 most important points from Bill Simmons’ apology”

    http://thinkprogress.org/alyss.....nd-hannan/

    And, more philosophically, here’s a piece about writing and being sold a load of bullshit.
    http://mariadahvanaheadley.wor.....of-outing/

  179. 179
    BethanyAnne says:

    Finally, a view from within the community about this. http://papierhache.wordpress.c.....y-of-dr-v/

    Kat makes a good point about us being monsters, and how comparing anyone to us is an insult. Simply for us to exist is considered fraudulent. We are lying if we don’t disclose instantly, and damned as flaunting our private lives if we do talk about our pasts. /shrug It gets old.

  180. 180
    brantl says:

    who should not play Whitney Houston in the planned biopic.

    Some strung out egomaniacal, egocentric junkie should play her, to get it right, but you wouldn’t be sure of her surviving to complete the film.

  181. 181
    brent says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    There’s a corpse who might disagree with you, but we’ll need an Ouija board to get her side of the story.

    That same corpse might also disagree with you but you seem not to care that you have entirely invented a narrative for her for which there is exactly zero evidence. This is a cheap and tawdry form of argument.

    My argument, which I did take some time to develop, is that her (presumed) fraudulent credentials are immaterial to whether or not the final product works, just as Geffen’s lack of a college degree was immaterial to whether or not he was a successful record producer.

    The article was not ultimately about whether the putter works. As has been pointed out to you, Grantland doesn’t do putter reviews. It was an article that was always meant to be about the person who invented the putter and by extension a story about the inner workings of the golf industry. So then the argument you now say you have carefully constructed, ignoring 2/3 of what you have actually written in this thread, is entirely irrelevant to the topic at hand.

    But even setting that transparent attempt at misdirection aside, your Geffen analogy only works if you are arguing that Geffen’s lie should under no circumstances be reported or exposed. Is that what you are arguing? Your particular determinations of what entertainment everyone else should care about could not possibly be of less interest to me. What interests me is whether or not you wish to defend the claim that a journalist should deliberately ignore false claims by someone who is relying financially on those false claims because that person is transgender. Is that your position? I am obviously not the first person to ask.

  182. 182
    Cassidy says:

    @BethanyAnne: Makes no sense. Any other time we meet someone we don’t immediately ask which set ifbgenitalia is your preferred to play with, but somehow trans people are expected to give us a full rundown?

  183. 183
    Paul in KY says:

    @Botsplainer: I think the correct term for the deceased is ‘her’.

  184. 184
    Onemorelurker says:

    @Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN)

    I see the tone deafness you displayed few years ago arguing for the rights of rapists and the rights of school protecting the rapists as opposed to protecting the rights of the victims. Apparently you are still that person. Yuk.

  185. 185
    Suzanne says:

    @Mnemosyne: I am not familiar with Ron Popeil, but if he is a lying sack of shit, then, YES, he deserves to have his career ruined and if he broke any laws regarding false advertising or fraud, then I hope he enjoys some time enjoying his thoughts at state expense.

    It is without a doubt a serious breach of business ethics, what Dr. V did, regardless of whether or not 12 people could have been persuaded that she should go to prison. And in our absolutely rightful condemnation of the reporter for breaching journalistic ethics, I think it’s worthy to remind ourselves that, had we never known that Dr. V was trans (which is, after all, what she wanted), we would be calling her a liar and a fraud right now.

    I think it is facile for some to imply that her suicide was a direct result of being outed, when, just as in life, her business conduct was inseparable from her personal life.

    This story is really, really sad. On every front.

  186. 186
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN):

    Vanderbilt flat out lied to anyone who invested in her company or bought her putter. You are coming up with all sorts of evasions for why we shouldn’t care about that and I find it pretty off the wall.

    Read what I said again and take your blinders off. I said that the problem is that she lied to the investors. In fact, the reporter seems to think that was what the problem was, because the first person he outed her to as transgender was one of the investors.

    You picked up a second string of the argument and claimed that consumers were equally as defrauded as the investors. That is what I disagree with. Can you at least attempt to characterize my arguments honestly?

    Believe it or not, companies that are found to be doing false advertising to consumers are not shut down and don’t have their founders fully investigated the way this woman was. The FTC says, Hey, stop falsely advertising and pay this fine, and the companies say, Okay.

    What interests me is whether or not you wish to defend the claim that a journalist should deliberately ignore false claims by someone who is relying financially on those false claims because that person is transgender. Is that your position?

    Not at all. But whether or not the person is transgender is not part of the false claims.

    Lying about your degrees is a false claim. Not telling people that you used to be a different gender is not a false claim. That’s why it’s immaterial in this case, unless you believe that every transperson is by definition committing fraud by claiming to be the “wrong” gender.

    As I said above, a transperson can be a liar or fraudster just like any of us. But their gender identity is not proof of fraud, and any name or gender changes are not proof of fraudulent intent.

  187. 187
    Mnemosyne says:

    @BethanyAnne:

    I thought this was a good point from the Rosenberg piece:

    And I remain curious about why the piece focused on Vanderbilt, rather than on Gary McCord, the CBS commentator who is almost purely responsible for giving Vanderbilt’s putter public attention, and who confirmed many of her lies about her credentials and resume to Hannan.

    I suppose McCord can try to claim that he, too, was a victim of the fraud, but as far as I know he hasn’t made any such claim. There was a whole other story here about how these kinds of inventions get picked up and touted by people with an audience even if the invention is a little shaky, but it wasn’t really touched on.

  188. 188
    Mnemosyne says:

    @brent:

    But even setting that transparent attempt at misdirection aside, your Geffen analogy only works if you are arguing that Geffen’s lie should under no circumstances be reported or exposed.

    Here is where I may have tricked you — there is another fact of Geffen’s life, which is that he’s gay. He’s been out since at least the mid-1980s, but let’s put him into a story to parallel V’s:

    Let’s say Geffen is back to being a young record producer trying to get investors to give him money to start a record company. You’re the reporter looking into this guy. In the course of your research, you first discover the UCLA story, and then you discover that Geffen is gay and closeted. Does that discovery send a chill down your spine? Do you see it as proof that he’s a liar and a fraudster? Do you tell one of his investors that he’s gay without his permission?

  189. 189
    brent says:

    Does that discovery send a chill down your spine? Do you see it as proof that he’s a liar and a fraudster? Do you tell one of his investors that he’s gay without his permission?

    No one is defending those elements of the story and certainly no one is arguing that he was right to out her to an investor. If you are having that argument, then you are arguing with yourself. Additionally I, and just about everyone else on this thread, has pointed out that the author could have done a lot better with the way he presented the story but the facts remain, as stated in my initial post,

    1. Once he realized she was lying about her credentials, it was inevitable that he was going to dig until he found out about her gender identity

    2. Once he reported on the false credentials, it was inevitable that the rest would come to light even if he didn’t do it himself.

    Now, it would be difficult, but I agree not impossible to report on the fraudulent credentials without giving some detail as to why they were so difficult to verify, but whether the reporter brought those specific facts to light or not, he would be outing her, just by writing the story at all. That simply doesn’t apply in the Geffen case and your tortured attempt to make that analogy work is unpersuasive.

    It might make more sense if when Geffen said he was at UCLA, it turned out that he was, I don’t know, actually a student at bible college with an entirely different name. I’m stretching mightily to try to make your analogy work but do you think that fact would be reported on and come to light or not? I think the former and frankly, it strikes me as absurd to think otherwise.

  190. 190
    Mnemosyne says:

    @brent:

    That simply doesn’t apply in the Geffen case and your tortured attempt to make that analogy work is unpersuasive.

    Why is the analogy between outing a gay person to an investor and outing a transgender person to an investor unpersuasive?

  191. 191
    brent says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Why is the analogy between outing a gay person to an investor and outing a transgender person to an investor unpersuasive?

    I am not sure why you are unable to accept this but nobody defends that action. No one on this thread, except for one specific troll, is saying that the reporter didn’t engage in a fair amount of highly questionable behavior here. Digging into her background was not questionable behavior and it doesn’t constitute “hounding.”

    The analogy fails because Geffen’s gayness would not be the complicating factor in determining his true credentials whereas something like having an entirely different identity at a different school might and would thus become germane to the investigation of his claims.

  192. 192
    am says:

    I think the hostility to Hannan is misplaced after reading the article. It’s not mean spirited or bigoted. It was a mistake to reveal Dr. V’s transgendered identity to anyone, but it’s a lot more likely her suicide was related to the elaborate lies she had constructed around her identity that were unrelated to her gender.

Comments are closed.