New Jersey Waitress Alleging Anti-Gay Hate Ought to Be Cautionary Tale to Media

A New Jersey waitress who became a minor internet celebrity after she alleged that a customer refused to give her a tip because she is a lesbian appears to have resigned or been fired after evidence was presented that she fabricated the entire incident.

The restaurant, Gallop Asian Bistro, posted a note to its Facebook page Saturday evening saying that it had conducted an investigation into the matter and that upon its conclusion, in a “joint decision,” the waitress, Dayna Morales, “will no longer continue her employment at our restaurant.”

The posting declined to state definitively whether Morales had made up the incident entirely, characterizing its findings as “inconclusive.”

The kerfuffle began last month on a gay-themed Facebook page when the waitress posted a photo of a restaurant receipt which included a message supposedly written by the customer that the following: “I’m sorry but I cannot tip because I do not agree with your lifestyle and how you live your life.”

Morales’s story almost immediately received an enormous amount of news coverage. CNN filed several stories on it, as did many local television news stations and numerous websites and newspapers. People sympathetic to her alleged plight began sending in donations to compensate her.

But things began to unwind after New York television station WNBC talked to a man and woman who said that they were the couple in question and that they had, in fact, left a tip. They also presented an apparent copy of the receipt and a credit card statement indicating that they had left an $18 tip on their meal of $93.55. The WNBC report prompted Gallop Asian Bistro to launch the investigation which ultimately led to Morales’s departure from the restaurant.

This is hardly the first media firestorm surrounding allegedly bigoted behavior that has fizzled out upon further examination. In October, a Tennessee man named Devin Barnes claimed that he was slandered by a Red Lobster waitress who posted a photo of a receipt online with a racial epithet on it and a tip for “none.” He denies that he wrote the slur but does confirm he wrote the tip amount.

Similarly, in November, it was revealed that several racist and anti-gay messages that were reported at Vassar College, a small liberal arts school in New York, were all the work of two students, one of whom was on the college’s self-described “Bias Incident Response Team.”

Likewise, a Massachusetts woman has been accused of being a “strong suspect” in an incident where a racist graffito was spray-painted onto her house after she changed her story several times and destroyed paint cans were found in a fire pit on her property.

In contrast, as Liberty Unyielding pointed out last week, there has been almost no media coverage of a vandalism spree in nearby Ware, Massachusetts which has featured arson and explicitly anti-Catholic vandalism.

A truly balanced national news media ought to come to the conclusion that all cases of alleged bigotry against people of any group (including Christians) deserve coverage or they should be confined to simply local news stories until they can be verified.

Matthew Sheffield
Matthew Sheffield
Matthew Sheffield, creator of NewsBusters and president of Dialog New Media, an internet marketing and design firm, left NewsBusters at the end of 2013