The Complete Dr. V Response Archive (for now)

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Grantland’s Dr. V Story* (But Were Afraid to Ask)

The Complete Dr. V Response Archive (for now)

Illustration courtesy of

Illustration courtesy of

Jan. 23, 2014

As if Grantland’s now-infamous story “Dr. V’s Magical Putter” wasn’t long enough on its own, a mountain of fascinating response pieces have been penned in the eight days since the story dropped. In lieu of writing my own response, I’ve instead tried to compile all of the other stories about the Grantland story.

The list is ordered by date, and then ordered alphabetically by author within the date. The only exception are the two Grantland response pieces from January 20th, which I have placed at the top of that date group.

I will update the list as new stories come along. And if you come across a story that is not here, please feel free to tweet it to me @readjack.

Two quick notes from me.

First, the story of Hannan’s previous skirmish with questionable journalistic practice is now making the rounds, (from last summer: Yahoo, Mercury-News, Seattle PI) and is worth reading as part of Hannan’s backstory.

Second, while I agree with much of what is written below, I think a big point is being missed here about journalistic responsibility. I haven’t seen it expressed yet, anyhow.

It’s pretty simple: I can totally understand Hannan not knowing anything about the transgender community. Journalists regularly face subject matters about which they possess little to no background knowledge. Navigating that material and emerging on the other side with a well-written, well-researched story is a good portion of what we do every day.

However, you have to know your blind spots. It should not have mattered that Hannan and the Grantland team did not know anything about transgender issues. It should have only mattered that they knew that they didn’t know anything about transgender issues. When that happens as a journalist, you do your due diligence. You cover your ass. You find someone who knows what you don’t, and you make damn sure that by the time you publish your story, you’ve filled in the gaps in your knowledge.

There is really no other way to do this job. Of all of their errors, as journalists, that was their first.

Happy reading.



*** UPDATED FEB. 8, 2:30 PM***

Jan. 15: Dr. V’s Magical Putter by Caleb Hannan for Grantland
Jan. 17: Dr. V, Caleb Hannan, and Grantland by Michael Handler for Beautiful, Terrible, and Strange
Jan. 18: Dr. V: an edit after the fact by S.I. Rosenbaum for Desperation Device
Jan. 18: …That Grantland Trans* Story… by Rebecca Schoenkopf for Happy Nice Time People
Jan. 19: What Dr. V Says About Today’s Journalism by Jack Limpert for About Editing And Writing
Jan. 19, I think: The Larger Story by Eric Nusbaum for
Jan. 19: The journalist and Dr. V by Paige Williams for Nieman Storyboard
Jan. 20: What Grantland Got Wrong by Christina Kahrl for Grantland
Jan. 20: The Left’s War on the Free Press by Sonny Bunch for The Washington Free Beacon
Jan. 21: Thoughts on the Grantland Mess by Jeff Fogle for Stat Intelligence
Jan. 21: …Bill Simmons apologizes in Grantland by Jay Rosen for Press Think (includes a link to this archive)
Jan. 21: The Sad Story of Dr. V by Andrew Sullivan for The Dish
Jan. 22: How Privilege Protects You by Danielle Henderson for The Stranger
Jan. 22:  Editors, Writers, and a Good Question From Barney Calame by Jack Limpert for About Editing And Writing
Jan. 22: Joy’s Law for journalism by Jay Rosen for Press Think
Jan. 22: World War T by Steve Sailer for Taki’s Magazine
Jan. 23: Against The Caleb Hannan Two-Minute Hate by Rod Dreher for The American Conservative
Jan. 23: The difficulty of sticking to a story by Ann Friedman for Columbia Journalism Review
Jan. 24: On “Dr. V’s Magical Putter” (a podcast with ESPN’s Christina Kahrl) by Bob Garfield for On The Media
Jan. 24: Dr. V, Grantland and Caleb Hannan, a podcast by Jeremy Littau and Patrick Thornton for Interchange Project
Jan. 25: Reporting on Suicide by Theresa Sullivan for Contenders Magazine
Jan. 26: No point: no dialogue by Jane Fae for Jane Fae Part II
Jan. 27: Dr V story understandable, inexcusable by ESPN Ombudsman Robert Lipsyte for ESPN
Jan. 28: The Sad Story of Dr. V, Ctd by Andrew Sullivan for The Dish
Feb. 2 (maybe): Petition to ESPN — Fire Caleb Hannan for outing a trans woman and change your LGBT policies by Harriet Smith on
January 26 Update: Thoughts on the career and legacy of Bill Simmons

A big thank you to everyone who has sent me stories and everyone who has shared the list. We’re up over 50 pieces; I have enjoyed reading them all and seeing the variety of viewpoints and angles. I have also enjoyed being introduced to so many new writers and sites.

As a fan and supporter of Bill Simmons for over a decade now as well as a fellow sportswriter, I feel like I have a stake in his work. I think most readers feel that way about writers they enjoy. Readers are a writer’s capital. I take that relationship seriously as a reader — with Simmons, it led to me writing what is, as far as I can tell, the longest published review of The Book of Basketball.

Throughout my time reading his work, I have always appreciated that Simmons never used his far-reaching voice to opine on subjects outside his wheelhouse. Part of his success is that he never veers from his strengths: sports and popular culture.

Which is not to say that Simmons does not have interests outside of those two subject areas. He has regularly mentioned in columns his interest in the JFK Assassination, Watergate and race relations, though the only instance I can think of in which he published specifically on any of the three (or any other non-sports/non-pop culture topic) was a podcast last November for the 50th anniversary of JFK’s death.

For the most part though, Simmons has followed a self-imposed code that he alluded to in the late 2000s in a column called “Welcome to the Vengeance Scale” — a column that ranked acts of “vengeance” (committed mostly by athletes) from least vengeful to most vengeful. Here was the key caveat, as it pertains to the Dr. V story:

I shied away from historical examples (like Stalin deporting Trotsky, or Germany’s response after World War I), only because that’s probably a whole other column. And I’m not the one to write it.

I always thought that was a great example of Simmons both revealing his other areas of interest while acknowledging the importance that he stay in his lane. Now that he is an editor and the creator of his own website, that lane has expanded, even if it remains primarily in the world of sports and popular culture. He would never approach sports with Jonathan Abrams’s biographical insight, Jordan Conn’s use of historical narrative, or Kirk Goldsberry’s statistical charting, to name a few. Yet as Grantland’s editor-in-chief, Simmons is responsible for them all.

While Caleb Hannan remains the writer in the crosshairs, few readers are invested in him, certainly not to the degree they are invested in Simmons. Though the Simmons apology was valuable for the insight it provided into Grantland’s editorial process, it was hugely disappointing to me as a fan and supporter. Like Hannan losing control of the Dr. V material, Simmons lost control of his editorial reins. The job, in that moment, swallowed him up.

I do not agree with those who believe he should resign. The site has been too good for too long to say that one error — no matter how tragic and monumental — should be his undoing. I just hope that he has learned the difference between giving a home to new voices and giving a home to different voices. Time will tell.


~ by readjack on January 23, 2014.

2 Responses to “The Complete Dr. V Response Archive (for now)”

  1. Also this:–2014121101031185881.html

  2. Also:

    Joy’s Law for journalism

    “Events by which ‘Dr. V’s Magical Putter’ came to be published are now the best argument I have for you on diversity in the newsroom. Here is what can happen when you are not diverse enough. Like it?”

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