If you’ve been following the recent dustup between Dave Portnoy and The Washington Post, you’ve been privy to one of the more embarrassing episodes for a mainstream press outlet in recent memory.
The background revolves around a pizza festival set to be held in New York. Yes, you read that right. The thing that sent the Post into a tizzy was a pizza festival.
We’ve seen these tactics before. Someone with even a tacit connection to the right (Portnoy is still mostly liberal) tries to do something non-political so press outlets start calling participants to make veiled threats. Here’s my own paraphrased recreation of how that typically goes.
REPORTER: We heard you’ll be serving pizza at the One Bite Pizza Festival. Did you know it’s hosted by Dave Portnoy?
PIZZA SHOP: Yes, we know that.
REPORTER: Did you know he’s been accused of sexual misconduct and has made misogynistic comments, and that you may face a backlash if you participate? You wouldn’t want that to happen, would you? You don’t support sexual misconduct and misogyny, do you?
Portnoy was prepared, though, and called up Post reporter Emily Heil once he got wind a hit piece was in the works. During their conversation, he was able to catch her in a lie and essentially garner an admission that she was misleading sponsors to smear Portnoy. A video of the exchange can be found by clicking here.
As it turns out, Heil has a long history of being an absolute hack. One example involved the drama surrounding Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court.
In short, Heil saw a job listing on Georgetown University’s website for an alumni director and assumed it was to fight bad PR stemming from the accusations against Kavanaugh. Yet, when she asked for comment, she was told specifically that the job posting dated back to July, long before the accusations were public.
Instead of just punting on the story, which was no longer a story, Heil wrote the piece anyway. Worse, she ignored the clarifying information given to her (which again, completely nuked the story) and still framed it as a response to the Kavanaugh hearings. A correction was only made after publication.
Apparently, no lessons were learned, and Heil’s latest bit of yellow journalism has now earned the coveted community note. Portnoy had a bit of fun with that.
It’s astonishing to me that “reporters” like Heil remain employed. It’s not that journalists can’t make mistakes. Those happen and corrections are made. The problem is that what Heil does isn’t a mistake. She misleads on purpose in order to try to destroy people, and instead of the Post reining her in, they continue to give her the stamp of approval to do it over and over.
This is what the mainstream press has come to. Hounding pizza shops for serving pizza at a pizza festival. What a sad existence.