By:
March 19, 2021

Alexi McCammond will not be taking over as editor-in-chief of Teen Vogue after all. On Thursday, just days before she was to start her new job, news broke that McCammond was out because of racist tweets about Asians and homophobic tweets she wrote in 2011. The Daily Beast’s Maxwell Tani and Lachlan Cartwright broke the news, and then McCammond put out a statement on Twitter announcing she and Condé Nast, which owns Teen Vogue, had “decided to part ways.”

McCammond wrote, “My past tweets have overshadowed the work I’ve done to highlight the people and issues that I care about — issues that Teen Vogue has worked tirelessly to share with the world — and so Condé Nast and I have decided to part ways. I should not have tweeted what I did and I have taken full responsibility for that. I look at my work and growth in the years since, and have redoubled my commitment to growing in the years to come as both a person and a professional.”

She went on to wish the staff at Teen Vogue the best moving forward.

Stan Duncan, chief people officer at Condé Nast, sent an email to staff, readers and at least two advertisers that was obtained by The New York Times’ Katie Robertson. Duncan wrote, “After speaking with Alexi this morning, we agreed that it was best to part ways, so as to not overshadow the important work happening at Teen Vogue.”

McCammond was 17 in 2011 when she sent out tweets using racist stereotypes about Asians. Those tweets resurfaced in 2019, and McCammond deleted them and apologized. By that time, she was a rising star in the media. She was covering the White House for Axios and was an MSNBC contributor. In 2019, she was named the emerging journalist of the year by the National Association of Black Journalists.

After Condé Nast picked her to be Teen Vogue’s editor-in-chief on March 5, her old tweets resurfaced again and at least 20 Teen Vogue staffers complained to Condé Nast about McCammond’s hiring. McCammond apologized at least twice in writing — first in an internal note to staff and then in another letter to “Teen Vogue community, staff, readers, writers, photographers, content creators, and friends.” She also reportedly had one-on-one meetings with Teen Vogue staffers.

It originally appeared as if Condé Nast, which was aware of McCammond’s anti-Asian tweets, was going to stand by its hiring of McCammond. In his email Thursday, Duncan wrote, “Given her previous acknowledgement of these posts and her sincere apologies, in addition to her remarkable work in journalism elevating the voices of marginalized communities, we were looking forward to welcoming her into our community.”

But the intense scrutiny over the past two weeks apparently grew to a point that Teen Vogue and McCammond saw no choice but to part ways. In her story for the Times, Robertson wrote, “Although the company was aware of the racist tweets, it did not know about the homophobic tweets or a photo, also from 2011, that was recently published by a right-wing website showing her in Native American costume at a Halloween party.” That was based on information Robertson received from a Condé Nast executive.

In addition, two major advertisers — Ulta Beauty and Burt’s Bees — suspended their campaigns with Teen Vogue. Robertson wrote that Anna Wintour, the chief content officer and global editorial director of Vogue, tried to rally support for McCammond, but apparently the decision was made that the hiring was not going to work.

More on McCammond …

There has been some conversation in the past two weeks about McCammond’s tweeting history. Some asked if McCammond should be punished for something she tweeted a decade ago when she was a teenager. I personally believe 17 is old enough to know that the tweets she sent were not OK, but some have argued that if she has shown true remorse and has learned from her mistakes, the old tweets shouldn’t ruin the rest of her career.

But in this specific case, it’s hard to use the excuse that McCammond was “only” a teenager when her new job was to run a publication geared to teenagers. I’m not the first to make this point. In fact, it’s believed many Teen Vogue staffers said the same thing. Their point: an outlet would have a hard time saying it wants to treat teenagers as intelligent and mature and then turn around and excuse a teenager’s racist tweets because of their youth.

Meanwhile, all this comes just a month after McCammond’s boyfriend, T.J. Ducklo, was suspended and then resigned as the White House’s deputy press secretary. Ducklo reportedly threatened a Politico writer who was working on a story about Ducklo’s relationship with McCammond and how that could be seen as a conflict of interest. Ducklo reportedly told the Politico reporter that he would “destroy” her.

Ducklo tweeted an apology and resignation that said, “I used language that no woman should ever have to hear from anyone, especially in a situation where she was just trying to do her job. It was language that was abhorrent, disrespectful and unacceptable. I am devastated to have embarrassed and disappointed my White House colleagues and President Biden …”

The Washington Post moves closer to a newsroom leader

(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

The Washington Post is still in the process of finding a replacement for Marty Baron, who recently retired as executive editor. However, a person close to the situation says the Post is moving closer and offered up some names of who could be in line for interviews.

The names include Rebecca Blumenstein, Carolyn Ryan and Marc Lacey — all high-ranking editors at The New York Times; National Geographic editor-in-chief Susan Goldberg; Minneapolis Star Tribune editor and senior vice president Rene Sanchez; and internal candidates Cameron Barr and Steven Ginsberg.

A name not on that list is Kevin Merida — the ESPN senior vice president who runs The Undefeated. He was once considered a strong candidate, but it’s believed that, for now, he’s staying put.

Of course, all this is subject to change and other candidates could still emerge.

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times also continues its search for an executive editor to replace Norman Pearlstine, who stepped down in December. Some of the names on the Post list also could end up on the Times’ list of potential candidates.

Troubling details

Another of the troubling moments in the aftermath of Tuesday’s mass shootings in metro Atlanta were the comments made by Capt. Jay Baker, the spokesman for the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office. While informing the media about the suspect in the shootings, Baker said, “He was pretty much fed up and had been kind of at the end of his rope. Yesterday was a really bad day for him, and this is what he did.”

That one phrase — “a really bad day for him” — drew immediate and justifiable outrage.

The Washington Post editorial board wrote, “Really? Have we become so nonchalant about gun violence that we rack up the murder of eight people to someone having a ‘bad day?’ Just as the coronavirus represents a public health emergency requiring scientific solutions and government action, so gun violence is a public health crisis that demands attention and action to put in place common-sense safety laws.”

Then more disturbing details emerged.

BuzzFeed News’ Stephanie K. Baer reported on how Baker, in a Facebook post from April 2020, shared a photo of a T-shirt that parodied the Corona beer label. It said, “Covid 19 IMPORTED VIRUS FROM CHY-NA.” And Baker wrote, “Love my shirt. Get yours while they last.”

Vincent Pan, co-executive director of Chinese for Affirmative Action, told The Associated Press’ R.J. Rico, “To see this post is both disturbing and outrageous. It speaks to the structural racism that we’re all up against. Coupled with the comments coming out of the news conference, it does not give community members confidence that our experiences and the pain and the suffering that we’re feeling are being taken seriously, at least by this particular person.”

Baker has not responded publicly about his Facebook post.

As far as Baker’s comments about the suspect having a “bad day,” Cherokee County Sheriff Frank Reynolds said in a statement that Baker’s comments were “taken or construed as insensitive or inappropriate.” However, Reynolds said, they “were not intended to disrespect any of the victims, the gravity of this tragedy, or express empathy or sympathy for the suspect.”

Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson offered his thoughts with his column: “Remember these words whenever anyone tells you policing is colorblind.”

Newsmax’s unsurprising hire

Jason Miller (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool)

Newsmax — the pro-Trump, staunch-conservative TV network — announced a splashy hire on Thursday. And it’s not surprising. It announced that former Trump senior adviser Jason Miller will serve as a contributor. He will, according to Newsmax, “provide commentary on a wide variety of issues facing the nation, such as immigration and trade.”

Disgusting behavior

This is a disgusting story that, quite frankly, I almost didn’t include today because I didn’t want to amplify this inappropriate behavior. But, ultimately, I found it important to call out the despicable actions of OAN — the pro-Trump network that cares little for the truth or ethics.

So here’s what happened. A reporter for The New York Times sent emails and direct messages via social media to employees at OAN. This reporter is working on a potential story about OAN and wants to know what it’s like to work there, what the culture is like, how stories are assigned and so forth. The reporter left an email and cell phone number where they could be reached.

To be clear, there is nothing unethical about this. In fact, it’s pretty standard reporting.

However, OAN immediately made the leap that it was a “hit piece” and decided to air a story about the Times reporter reaching out. In doing so, they ran screengrabs of the reporter’s message, which included the reporter’s email address (which isn’t so bad) and cell phone number (which is awful).

At the very least, it was completely irresponsible and, at worst, it was a purposeful attempt to prompt viewers to reach out and harass the reporter. The latter seems more likely because the names of OAN employees in the screengrabs were blocked out.

There’s no other way to put this: OAN’s actions here are reprehensible. And, it should be noted, that if the Times truly wanted to, they could obtain the phone numbers of most OAN employees and publicize them. They don’t, of course, because that would be wrong. That’s the difference between the Times and OAN.

When asked for a comment, New York Times vice president for communications Danielle Rhoades Ha told me in an email, “Journalists should be allowed to do their jobs without harassment. Our reporter will not be intimidated and will continue to follow the facts where they lead.”

NFL TV rights

(AP Photo/Tyler Kaufman)

The NFL signed whopping new TV deals that will start with the 2023 season and continue through the 2033 season. The deals are with Amazon and current partners CBS, ESPN/ABC, Fox and NBC.

Financial details were not released, but multiple reports say Amazon will pay about $1 billion per year, Disney (which owns ESPN/ABC) will pay about $2.7 billion per year, and the other networks will pay about $2 billion per year.

Here are some of the highlights of the deal:

The Super Bowls over that time will be divided among CBS (2023, 2027, 2031), Fox (2024, 2028, 2032) and NBC (2025, 2029, 2033). ABC will get two Super Bowls (2026, 2030). ABC hasn’t had a Super Bowl since 2006.

NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” will continue to have the ability to flex some games into its time slot, but now ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” also will flex some games for the first time. This helps put more meaningful games in primetime.

And here’s a big deal: Amazon Prime Video will become the exclusive home to “Thursday Night Football.”

For more information, The Washington Post sports media writer Ben Strauss has “What the NFL’s new TV deal means for the league, fans and networks.”

Media tidbits

(Courtesy: Axios)

  • Axios and Noticias Telemundo have launched “Axios Latino” — a weekly English-language newsletter that examines issues impacting the Latino community. It will debut March 25.
  • The National Press Photographers Association has announced its 2021 best of photojournalism contest. The Photojournalist of the Year in the large market category was Jacob Ehrbahn of Politiken. The small market winner was Jake May of The Flint Journal. Click on the link to see winners and finalists in more than 100 categories.
  • ABC News’ Rachel Scott will be the guest moderator for tonight’s “Washington Week” (8 p.m. Eastern on most PBS stations). Panelists will include The Washington Post’s Dan Balz, Politico’s Laura Barrón-López, CBS News’ Weijia Jiang and MSNBC’s Jacob Soboroff. Topics will include the shootings in Atlanta, the rise of anti-Asian violence, immigration and COVID-19.
  • Lester Holt will anchor a special edition of “Nightly News: Kids Edition,” which airs Saturday at 8:30 a.m. Eastern on most NBC stations. The show will feature two tennis-playing sisters who have started a nonprofit to distribute tennis equipment to kids in need.

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Have feedback or a tip? Email Poynter senior media writer Tom Jones at tjones@poynter.org.

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Correction: Rene Sanchez is editor and senior vice president for The Star Tribune, not senior managing editor. We regret the error.

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Tom Jones is Poynter’s senior media writer for Poynter.org. He was previously part of the Tampa Bay Times family during three stints over some 30…
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