Daniel Holtzclaw Article Pulled After Spurring Controversy Online

February 18th 2016

Alex Mierjeski

A now-deleted article profiling the erstwhile football career of former Oklahoma City police officer and convicted rapist Daniel Holtzclaw was pulled hours after being published on Wednesday. The article came under fire for painting a curiously positive portrait of Holtzclaw, who is serving a 263 sentence for rape and sexual assault.

Holtzclaw article

"Who is Daniel Holtzclaw? Linebacker," which appeared on the sports site SB Nation, profiled the athletic career of Holtzclaw, who was convicted recently for the rape and sexual abuse of eight women while on duty. The piece immediately picked up traction, and its premise was criticized for being a one-sided, positive-account parade of the former officer.

Though it recounted Holtzclaw's conviction, the article, which focused on the officer's football background, was notably lacking of the perspective of the officer's victims or their families.

Activists online called on the magazine and its editorial staff to offer an explanation of how the article passed through the many stages of editorial production without being questioned.

New York Daily News writer Shaun King posted on Facebook that the article "basically made [Holtzclaw] seem like an amazing dude."

"It was clearly a team effort and approved by editors," King wrote. "It all deserves a bigger answer."

Yesterday SB Nation published this massive article on convicted serial rapist Officer Daniel Holtzclaw but quickly...

Posted by Shaun King on Thursday, February 18, 2016

Others posted screengrabs of the author, freelance journalist Jeff Arnold's Twitter feed, which still linked to the article even after the site had taken it down. Arnold's account has since been locked.

On Wednesday afternoon, SB Nation's editorial director, Spencer Hall, published a statement apologizing for the article's insensitivity towards Holztclaw's victims. "It was tone-deaf, insensitive to the victims of sexual assault and rape, and wrongheaded in approach and execution," he wrote.

"The publication of this story represents a complete breakdown of a part of the editorial process at SB Nation. ... There is no qualification: it was a complete failure," Hall continued.