One long-running joke about The Washington Post (and The New York Times) is they are so relentlessly biased in their journalism that you can locate it anywhere in the paper, including the Food sections. The latest, very flagrant example is the blowout this week between the Post and Dave Portnoy, the wildly popular “El Presidente” of Barstool Sports.
On Wednesday, Portnoy took to Twitter with a video interview of Post feature writer Emily Heil, confronting her directly with emails that Heil sent requesting comment – and a cancel-culture moment – on a pizza festival organized by Portnoy.
Heil requested comment on Portnoy's trail of "misogynistic" comments, implying everyone who participated in his pizza-fest was slimed by association. Portnoy exposed Heil's manipulative method -- an attempt to blacken Portnoy and his event, and then when the hit piece was fully assembled, then you interview the victim.
On Friday, the Post published its story, headlined "Pizzerias navigate buzz, backlash around Dave Portnoy’s pizza festival." The "backlash" is what Heil and her co-author, food writer Tim Carman, were trying to create.
Heil and Carman dug up an unpublished rape joke from 2010, a joke that a female ESPN anchor's job was to "make men hard," and mockery of cop-hating QB Colin Kaepernick: “I thought he was an ISIS guy. … Throw a head wrap on this guy and he’s a terrorist.” Then came the allegations of bad sexual behavior:
In 2021, Insider.com published a story in which three women alleged that sexual encounters with Portnoy “turned into frightening and humiliating experiences” and two additional women alleged that Portnoy “choked and filmed them without advance permission.”
Portnoy posted his video again on "X" and expressed amazement they still published:
It's surreal we live in a country where activist reporters can openly get caught lying and admitting they are creating a false narrative to generate engagement and controversy AND still publish the article https://t.co/kUtVMsFI9M pic.twitter.com/R9wk8B9d3V— Dave Portnoy (@stoolpresidente) September 22, 2023
Portnoy also tweeted "Translation: Dave Portnoy caught us red handed. Our flustered reporter lied again and said she always planned on contacting him to get his side. She then scheduled a meeting. She then cancelled [sic] it till 1 minute before article was due so she could claim she tried to talk to him.".
In the article, Heil and Carman explained who their "client" was in this cancel-culture campaign:
Joe Rosenthal, a Minnesota-based mathematician who has positioned himself as the conscience of the food and restaurant industries, has been leading the charge against those involved with Portnoy’s festival. He has posted regularly on his Instagram account, with its 33,000-plus followers, writing that the pizzerias, influencers and trade publications are showing that “Portnoy can continue his violent misogyny and campaigns of abuse, and they will continue to support him.” Rosenthal wants the public to educate those businesses about Portnoy’s past behaviors and pressure them to make a decision.
"Educate" and "pressure a decision." That's cancel culture. (If you protest drag queens, the Post calls that "oppression.") Then there were media allies:
This week, Jeremy Schneider wrote an opinion piece for NJ.com headlined, “Why are N.J. pizzerias supporting misogynist bully Dave Portnoy?” And best-selling cookbook author J. Kenji López-Alt said in a recent Instagram story that Portnoy had “put together this list of pizzerias who are either not aware of his history...or know but don’t care.”
Nevertheless, Heil's story had a sad ending -- for her. Not a single participant pulled out of the pizza festival.
PS: The last time we wrote about Heil, she was feminist-ing in the Food section about "girl dinners." The headline was "Is Girl Dinner a simple nosh or the end of the patriarchy?"