“In writing this piece – which was reviewed and signed off on by at least four editors prior to its publication – I hoped to present a more fully-rounded portrait of Mr. Holtzclaw than had appeared in the press. I hoped to explore the question of what had happened to this once-promising young man. I and my editor at SB Nation hoped to find possible answers as to what could have led to him to become a convicted rapist and sexual predator. In the end, though, I produced a piece that had massive shortcomings.”
SB Nation published the story on Wednesday but took it down hours later, with editorial director Spencer Hall saying that the story’s publication represented “a complete breakdown of a part of the editorial process at SB Nation” and that the story was “a complete failure.” Arnold suspended his Twitter account after the story was pulled but appears to have brought it back on Monday.
On Friday, Deadspin’s Greg Howard reported that SB Nation had severed ties with Arnold, who had submitted the Holtzclaw story as a freelancer, and would conduct a peer review led by Lockhart Steele, the editorial director at Vox Media (SB Nation’s parent company). SB Nation also will suspend its longform program while the investigation is ongoing.
SB Nation Longform editor Glenn Stout has declined to comment about the Holtzclaw story, referring questions to Hall. Stout’s personal website — which he used to promote and solicit entries for the “Best American Sports Writing” series, which he edits — appeared to be down on Monday morning. “Best American Sports Writing” publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has not responded to a request for comment on Stout.
Arnold did not name the four SB Nation editors involved with the story’s publication. But according to the New York Times, Stout called the story “tough, insightful and timely” in an email to other SB Nation editors in December.
“The fact that [Holtzclaw] was a football player — and a pretty good one, who fell just short of the N.F.L. — seemed to have escaped all other coverage,” Stout added in the email.