The Washington Post Destroyed a Woman's Life to Protect Itself From Racism Accusations
In more scenes from the cultural revolution, American style, New York Mag delves into the Washington Post's bizarre decision to publish a 3,000 word piece in the Style section about a woman who had dressed up as Megyn Kelly in blackface to a Halloween party a few years ago, which included Washington Post employees, resulting in her getting fired and her life being ruined.
It's an interesting dissection of the twisted dynamics of the new Salem Witch Trials.
“My reaction, like everybody, was, What the hell? Why is this a story?” a feature writer at the Post told New York. “My second reaction was, Why is this a 3,000-word feature?” The feature writer added, “This was not drawn up by the ‘Style’ section.”
Why was it a story? The Post was protecting its employees from the social justice purge.
The story first arrived at the Post via management consultant Lexie Gruber, who, along with her friend Lyric Prince, an artist, had confronted Schafer that night in 2018. Immediately after the event, Prince posted about the exchange on Facebook. Another guest at the party, who also confronted Schafer, soon wrote about it on Medium. Meanwhile, Gruber tried and failed to identify Schafer, who, at the party, had worn a name tag that read “Hello, My Name Is Megyn Kelly.” Nineteen months later, on June 9, Gruber contacted Toles, whom she didn’t know, to ask for help identifying the woman. (Gruber had attended the party as a guest of a guest.) She attached a photo of Schafer from the party. Toles claimed, falsely, not to recognize her.
But it wasn't going to end there. The Post cartoonist tried to protect her, only for the paper to then go ahead and lynch her to protect Toles and itself.
On June 14, Gruber sent Sullivan a message that “suggested the person wearing blackface might be a producer at the Post,” Sullivan told New York. Sullivan forwarded the message (which didn’t name a specific Post employee as the blackface suspect) to a couple of features-department editors, she said, “and pretty much lost track of it after that until it published.” But it didn’t take long for Post reporters to establish that it was not one of their colleagues who had worn blackface — Fisher was on the phone with Schafer by June 15.
Schafer told New York that when she asked Fisher — a reporter who, like Trent, has worked at the Post for more than 20 years — why the story was news, he replied, “We have to do it or they will go to another outlet.” Gruber, too, said that Trent asked if she was speaking to other media outlets.
Two women have come forward accusing you of witchcraft, we have to denounce you or they'll purge all of us.
But a second person interviewed by Fisher said, “He expressed his misgivings about the story to me.” This person said that the impression Fisher left was that he had been told to do the story and that it was not his decision.
A third person interviewed by Fisher recounted a similar exchange. “He told me that from a personal perspective, he didn’t think this story necessarily warranted being out there, and that was his personal opinion,” this person said. “He chalked it up to other senior editors at the Post saying it has to go, and he claimed it was out of his hands even though he wrote it.”
One of the striking features of the Communist purges was that many of the people involved were initially reluctant, before getting on board with the program, and even as the system terrorized them, they continued to uphold and protect it because they saw it as theirs.
Now the same media literati who enthusiastically sat through The Crucible are reenacting it, occasionally uncomfortably, but they are doing the dirty work so they don't get denounced.