By now, you have probably heard that Adrian Dater is no longer working for the Denver Post. The latest issue was related to his use of social media, which has always been a contentious point with him. He was brutal on twitter to even the nicer people who disagreed with him. The dancing-on-the-grave seen on twitter over the loss of his job says a lot about his style there. He blocked and bullied plenty of people. They gave it back to him as well.
Let me tell you about my experience with Dater.
About five and a half years ago, an item came across my RSS feed from Dater that I couldn’t believe he posted. This was after his rant about ESPN that he took down and apologized for. This one was about women calling NBA games. He was, to put it nicely, against it. But when I went looking for the post on the Denver Post site, it was gone. I tried to contact the Post about it, ask for a comment, but I got no response. They already seemed to know about it. I wrote Dater directly, and he responded, but he didn’t want to talk about it. I wrote about his post, and later, he apologized in the All Things Avs blog on the Denver Post site. That apology was later taken down.
Cut to a few months later. Dater was meeting up with some Avs fans at my favorite Denver hockey bar, SoBo 151. I went, and hung out for a bit. I was trying to find a good time to tell him who I was, that I was the guy who wrote about him and his post, and it took a little while until I got the opportunity. Finally, I let him who I was, and waited for the backlash. There was a pause, and then he surprised me. He was super gracious. He was nice as hell about it. I wrote something that gave him negative attention from a wider audience, and he was not mad at me, at least in the moment. He joked a little about it, and he shared a few personal things. It was not what I expected.
Let’s be clear. I did not go to meet him to rub anything in his face. I went because if you write something about someone, you take your licks. I was ready to get my head ripped off. I was surprised when I didn’t.
Later, on social media, he was a lot less gracious. He was much more biting, much more aggressive, back to his old ways. I wound up blocking him on twitter before he blocked me. He blocked a lot of fans that relied on him for information. He made a lot of things about himself that should have been about the team he covered. His rudeness was celebrated by some, admonished by others. I wasn’t interested in that game, and it made following the Avalanche harder.
What it seems like is there were two Adrian Daters, the one most everyone experienced on twitter, blogs, podcasts and other media, and the one people who saw him in person knew. The stories about Dater from people who he had time for, who he helped, who he mentored and was friends with paint a very different picture from the one who wrote angry, biting, belittling and sometimes abusive things online. He helped people who sought him out, including Jessica Redfield. He was awful to people, and he was good to people.
It’s too bad the way things went down. I feel bad for him and I feel bad for the people he hurt. I’m glad that he doesn’t have the position he once had to lash out at people who wanted to know more about the team they loved. I’m glad he is going to finally address some of his issues, ones he mentioned on facebook about no longer being with the Post.
And I hope that the culture that allowed this to go on for so long, that allowed the behavior that got this bad, is finally squashed. I’ve seen some of it from other writers at the Post. Perhaps it had something to do with the culture and people already there. But then again, they have decent writers (Terry Frei, for example) who doesn’t pull the kinds of shenanigans we’ve seen.
For a long time, Avs fans have deserved better from the Denver Post and their beat writer. It’s too bad it had to come to this to get there.