A digital news site owned by the gay dating app Grindr has apologized after running a controversial critique of Ariana Grande’s “thank u, next” video that sparked online vitriol and alleged threats of violence against the writer.
Zach Stafford, who is the editor-in-chief of Grindr’s INTO, issued a statement Tuesday saying he was “personally sorry” for having allowed his team to publish the widely derided article that appeared on the site a day prior.
“We as editors failed the writer by not working with her to ensure the piece met our standards,” Stafford wrote. “Moving forward, I am working with the entire INTO team to ensure something like this doesn’t happen again.”
Update: Yesterday we as an editorial team at @INTO messed up. The Ariana Grande piece should have never been published. Here’s more on that and what we are doing next: https://t.co/0xGXbudZZR— Zach Stafford (@ZachStafford) December 4, 2018
He continued, “We at INTO really try our hardest every day to tell stories and have conversations with LGBTQ people that benefit the community, whether it’s on pop culture moments or reporting on LGBTQ asylum-seekers and immigration. And we can only keep doing this if we hold ourselves accountable.”
INTO earlier had removed the byline from the original piece, titled “Ariana Grande’s ‘Thank U, Next’ Music Video Is Surprisingly Anti-Queer” and published Monday. In it, the writer argued that “thank u, next” ― which had received more than 116 million views since its Nov. 30 release ― was “laden with transmisogyny, anti-queer jokes, and blackface.”
“The individualistic sentiment could be empowering for the white, cisgender, straight feminists who are represented in the video,” the author, who offered scant evidence for the claims, wrote. “Of course, this is at the expense of queer people, trans women, and people of color.”
Almost immediately, the article sparked a barrage of criticism. Among those to chime in was pop singer-songwriter Troye Sivan, who appears in the video for “thank u, next” and collaborated with Grande earlier this year on “Dance to This” from his latest album, “Bloom.”
This literally can’t be real I’m scream— troye (@troyesivan) December 3, 2018
Others, like “RuPaul’s Drag Race” veteran Tatianna, were similarly angered.
I’m sorry but this is the farthest reaching article I’ve read in my whole entire life. Like realllllly trying to make something from absolutely nothing. Wild 👀— TATIANNA (@TATIANNANOW) December 4, 2018
jesus take the wheel and drive me off a cliff. this is some wild shit. and i love pop culture analysis. but claims require textual evidence. so much here is verifiably false. this is just really embarassing for everyone involved… pic.twitter.com/1T8N8bSDtK— Kevin Allred (@KevinAllred) December 4, 2018
this is, hands down, the WORST pop culture article i’ve ever read in my life— anthony amorim is lo:st (@AnthonyAmorim) December 4, 2018
The criticism allegedly escalated into death threats against the writer, prompting INTO to remove the writer’s byline from the story shortly after it was published Monday.
In his Tuesday statement, Stafford said the site had severed ties with the writer for the time being because of “concerning allegations,” but did not elaborate on specifics.
“Given the seriousness of these allegations, I personally spoke with the writer and immediately launched an internal investigation,” he wrote. “INTO was not aware of these until Monday after publishing. And the writer will not be contributing to INTO for the time being.”
HuffPost has reached out to INTO for additional comment.
Watch the full “thank u, next” video below.
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