Posted on | January 19, 2014 | 37 Comments
Does this ESPN statement make any damned sense at all?
“We understand and appreciate the wide range of thoughtful reaction this story has generated and to the family and friends of Essay Anne Vanderbilt, we express our deepest condolences. We will use the constructive feedback to continue our ongoing dialogue on these important and sensitive topics. Ours is a company that values the LGBT community internally and in our storytelling, and we will all learn from this.”
The person known as Essay Anne Vanderbilt was, by all evidence, a sociopathic con artist who got caught. Period. End of sentence.
“Dr. Vanderbilt” was neither a doctor nor a Vanderbilt, and the bogus pretense to scientific superiority was inextricably connected to the phony persona who perpetrated that hoax.
Because “Dr. Vanderbilt” was born a male named Stephen Krol, the transgender aspect of the story was impossible to ignore and — I would argue, although the reporter Caleb Hannan has not — Krol/Vanderbilt’s gender dysphoria may have been one non-trivial symptom of what was clearly a disordered, dishonest and dysfunctional personality.
At the core of the #JusticeForDrV crusade seems to be the idea that Caleb Hannan’s reporting drove “Dr. Vanderbilt” to suicide, by threatening to “out” her as a transgender, even though there is no evidence that anyone who actually knew ”Dr. Vanderbilt” in Arizona ever mistook her for a genetic woman.
For crying out loud: When a 6-foot-3 middle-aged man gets a sex change, the resul is unlikely to be particularly . . . persuasive.
Beyond that, how was Caleb Hannan supposed to report that “Dr. Vanderbilt” was a phony — not an MIT-trained aeronautical physicist, as the hype for the Yar putter had claimed — without reporting that, during the years that “Dr. Vanderbilt” was supposedly working as a Pentagon contractor helping design stealth aircraft, “Dr. Vanderbilt” was working as an auto mechanic named Stephen Krol?
A well-known CBS golf announcer promoted the Yar Oracle putter as superior because of its designer’s scientific expertise, but as soon as Caleb Hannan checked into that claim, he discovered what at first seemed a mystery — no record of any MIT graduate named “Essay Anne Vanderbilt” — and was eventually revealed to be an enormous lie. Some might say at that point Hannan should have dropped the story, but if golfers were being scammed, isn’t such a scam newsworthy?
The #JusticeForDrV crusaders grabbed hold of the idea that “Dr. Vanderbilt” was driven to suicide by Caleb Hannan’s “transmisogynistic journalism” — a claim for which they offer no real evidence — while ignoring all evidence that (a) “Dr. Vanderbilt” was not a victim, but rather a person who victimized others, and (b) it was the failure of the pseudo-scientific putter scam, not fear of being “outed” as transgender, which motivated “Dr. Vanderbilt” to commit suicide. Of course, “Dr. Vanderbilt” had attempted suicide in 2008, before Hannan ever heard of her, but why let facts get in your way when you’re ghoulishly exploiting a corpse as “LGBT Victim of the Week”?
[Krol/Vanderbill] ended up in Bonney Lake, Washington, a short time later [in the late 1990s]. . . . She worked as general manager at Trax Bar and Grill, an LGBT bar in Kent, Washington. She was the subject of three separate harassment claims from her time there, including one from a male coworker who said she made “inappropriate comments about her breasts and genitalia.”
Yes, there’s your martyred victim: Someone who was accused of making weird comments to co-workers at a gay bar. And here is some more decidedly non-victim behavior from Vanderbilt:
[Leland] Frische is the risk manager for Gilbert [Arizona], and he had been there when Vanderbilt first came to work for the town. He said she was hired in April 2006 and there were problems almost immediately. Vanderbilt had applied to be the manager of the fleet services division, but she lost out on that job to someone else. She believed she was more qualified, however, and others complained that she did not try to hide that. “She would confront her boss in open meetings,” Frische told me. “She would talk down to people. She really didn’t give us many options.” The town eventually fired Vanderbilt. Not long after, she filed her lawsuit.
Hmmm. Harassing co-workers at a gay bar in Kent, Washington, a disgruntled employee in Gilbert, Arizona — am I the only one who sees “Dr. Vanderbilt” as a familiar type of troublemaker? And look at how Vanderbilt and her partner dealt with Hannan:
Now, [Yar Golf president Gerri] 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.
The “deal” was one I could not accept, and when I explained this Dr. V got upset. “What is your intention?” she asked. “Are you being paid by someone to destroy Yar?”
Paranoia? Baseless accusations of bad motives? But what sort of “proof” did Jordan and Vanderbilt plan to show Hannan of educational credentials that Vanderbilt clearly did not have? Never mind that, the #JusticeForDrV crusaders say, what matters is that Vanderbilt was transgender and Hannan practically murdered her:
A transgender woman known as Dr. V invented a new type of golf club and lied about her academic qualifications. A journalist called Caleb Hannan threated [sic] to publish details about these professional lies and also out her as transgender against her will. A few days later she killed herself.
That’s a goddamned lie. Journalists don’t “threaten” to publish stories, and in point of fact, Hannan never published anything about “Dr. Vanderbilt” prior to her suicide in October 2013.
Facts are stubborn things, as John Adams said. And the simple fact is that Essay Anne Vanderbilt’s entire life was a huge lie.