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Washington Post: Grab ’em by the napkins

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This is not a shot from Trump's victory party.
This is not a shot from Trump’s victory party.

In case it isn’t already obvious, one of the reasons the members of the fourth estate gave and will continue to give Trump pass after pass after pass is that it is infested with people who don’t see the problem with his behavior. Eventheliberal Washington Post has a misogynist clod problem.

“[The] napkin-wearing woman who was being disrobed by guests went beyond inappropriate to offensive to those those of us who resent seeing women continually being reduced to and offered as objects of men’s sexual desires,” read a Friday letter to Publisher Fred Ryan and Vice President for Communications & Events Kris Coratti.

Post Articles Editor Elizabeth Chang sent the letter on behalf of around 150 male and female staffers. The Huffington Post obtained a copy from a Post source.

The woman in question was wearing something underneath the napkin dress. But staffers were rankled by the concept, especially as misogyny and sexual harassment were major themes in the 2016 election.

“The fact that this happened at a Washington Post party at the conclusion of an election in which the issue of sexual assault played a huge role is upsetting and infuriating and counter to what we thought The Post stood for in this election,” the letter read.

Another thing that should be obvious is that people who tell members of oppressed groups to calm down have really earned that STFU.

Management issued a nonapology worthy of a Republican, back when they bothered to apologize.

“Although it was never our intent, we regret that this occurred and sincerely apologize for any upset created by this situation,” Coratti wrote. “Going forward, be assured that even more scrutiny will be placed on the packages offered by our sponsors — before, during, and after each event. You will not encounter anything like this again.”

Who among us hasn’t accidentally ordered a model clad in napkins for a party? I bet parents planning entertainment for their children’s birthday parties do it all of the time.

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  • D.N. Nation

    The ill-fitting suits they wear, the well-done steaks they chomp, disgusting stunts like this…it’s amazing how little class these types have.

    • Linnaeus

      Hey now, these are college-educated professionals!

  • Denverite

    Misogyny and inappropriateness aside, I’m really curious as to what the impetus was behind the whole napkin dress. It seems inexplicably random, like hiring a middle age man to walk around the party in swimming trunks and clown shoes. Why would it occur to anyone to do that?

    • DrDick

      You really do not want to know. I know I do not. That is a swamp no sane person should ever enter.

    • pianomover

      “Funny” way to distribute napkins to guests. Decision was party planners.

    • Dilan Esper

      I think the Trump campaign staffers, females included, went to a strip club the night before one of the debates.

      For all the progress we have made, there is still a huge residue of 1950’s style workplace practices out there.

    • BigHank53

      Why would it occur to anyone to do that?

      Probably a suggestion from the caterers: “Listen, last year you guys had the living statues. How about a living napkin dispenser during the hor d’oeuvres?”

    • timb

      I’m having a combination of flashbacks! All swirling around….Roman Courts in the late empire…Turkish Courts in the 15-16th century, Versailles c 1770, and the Hunger Games…

      All times (one of them made up) where a parasitic elite was SO BORED, they just had to have something to entertain them. It’s called decadence, before that word was re-appropriated by ad men.

      • Colin Day

        +50,000 quatloos.

  • I cancelled my sub when they called Bannon a “populist” (in some odd sense of the word where women, blacks, Hispanics, gays, Muslims, and Jews aren’t “people”). Not regretting that.

    (I became a Guardian “member” for $69 back in July. Good journalism is worth paying for.)

  • Warren Terra

    This would be incredibly offensive even if there wasn’t supposed to be a deliberate allusion to “grab em by the …” involved.

    One detail, though: it’s described as being “the Washington Post party” but there’s some weird branding and licensing involved. According to the Jezebel version of the story I read yesterday, there’s this:

    The event was thrown on behalf of the Post by MGM, which is opening a new hotel next month outside DC. In apologizing for the napkin dress, Vice President for Communications & Events Kris Coratti was happy to let the casino take the blame, saying the company would be more careful the next time it licenses its name to any old group.

    “Going forward, be assured that even more scrutiny will be placed on the packages offered by our sponsors—before, during, and after each event. You will not encounter anything like this again,” Coratti wrote.

    Obviously this doesn’t absolve the Post – they rented their name out to these tacky asshats, in a fairly huge conflict of interest – but it appears no-one at the Post planned the event and its mobile grab-a-napkin assault metaphor.

    • If MGM had hired a trio of shufflin’ darkies to tap-dance for tips, I daresay the Post might (?) have said, get this crap the fuck out of here.

      That does not seem to have occurred with Napkin Lady?

      • Warren Terra

        As I said, I’m not excusing the Post. They agreed to let MGM hold this party using their name, they become responsible for what their name gets linked to – especially if, when MGM decides to offend against good taste, they’re not lightning-quick to object and, later, to apologize. But even so it’s a reasonable point to make that no-one at the Post made the affirmative decision to include this offensive feature.

    • I don’t see how this changes things. In fact, I would argue that to the extent the Post didn’t have direct control over what was being offered, they had a greater duty to review the contract w/MGM. And as the HuffPo story notes, members of WaPo management were there and said nothing.

      • JonH

        I suspect the WaPo staffer directly responsible wasn’t prepared for the, uh, creativity the casino would use in planning the party. I’m sure the staffer wasn’t prepared to ask “Will there be women wearing napkin dispensing dresses?” because the possibility never entered their mind. They probably also didn’t ask if there would be wandering blackface frotteurs, just in case.

        Even if the MGM provided a detailed description of the event, the napkin ladies may not have been textually described in a way that would really capture the wrongness of the idea. And that’s assuming MGM didn’t intentionally obfuscate the description or leave it out entirely.

        This certainly isn’t the first time a company has been bitten by association with an event planned by another organization with different values and standards.

        • Just_Dropping_By

          Yeah, I was going to say that I would be quite amazed if the contract covering the party contained anything specifically describing the method of dispensing napkins. To the extent it addressed staffing for the event, I would expect it simply said that MGM would be responsible for providing the staffing, warranted that MGM would comply with all applicable federal, state, and local labor and employment laws, etc., and that MGM would indemnify WaPo for damages caused by the staff. The only contracts I can ever remember seeing that contained specifications about staff apparel are contracts where you had a subcontractor or other outsider supplier of staff and the contract specified that staff had to wear uniforms or meet other dress code requirements as part of trying to maintain a specific “brand image” for the other contracting party. I wouldn’t expect that sort of provision in a contract covering an event like this (a one-off party, where WaPo presumably doesn’t ordinarily have staff performing these functions in the first place to need to worry about matching uniforms, etc.).

          • so-in-so

            I don’t think party planning works this way. Maybe the Post just says “we want a party, we can’t be bothered with planning” but then I suspect you get a fairly staid event, even at MGM. I’d bet MGM said “here’s some entertainment options” and somebody on the Post staff said “Ohh, I like THIS one”.

        • This kind of thing happens a lot. There’s also sometimes pretty serious differences in standards within companies. A tech company I’m familiar with had a problem where the (significant and sincere) work they were doing on promoting inclusivity and diversity in their engineering department was undermined when someone found out that the sales department sponsored (something akin to) a wet T-shirt contest at a conference.

          The sales people were off-premises, paid on commission, etc. and nobody on the tech side had any idea who they were, much less what they were doing. And it was against written policy. But, you know, written policy doesn’t mean much when you hire a bunch of type-A white bros and give them an expense account.

          • Origami Isopod

            Unsurprising. While tech has notorious problems with diversity, sales is far, far worse.

          • jam

            How did the company respond to that? Did it fire the people responsible or continue to employ them?

            If it didn’t fire them, then it considers that behavior acceptable.

          • JonH

            “when you hire a bunch of type-A white bros and give them an expense account.”

            TBH it need not have been white bros. There have been some tech industry shenanigans by Asian men.

        • jam

          And when the WaPo management noticed it happening could they not have objected immediately?

          • They all have an un-un-un-UNcontrollable fear of hair napkins.

          • JonH

            Perhaps they thought it was some kind of standard MGM casino thing, and didn’t connect it specifically to the WaPo event. Like, they might have thought there were similarly attired women circulating throughout the casino in general.

            • This took place at the WaPo’s offices. I don’t think MGM is open yet.

              • jam

                The excuses must flow. WaPo management can’t possibly be accountable for any aspect of this, it is written.

      • Katya

        I agree that the WaPo likely had no idea this was going to happen, and no reason to know, because that’s not how these contracts work. BUT, when they showed up at the party and saw this, someone in WaPo management should have said something to the event manager immediately. They didn’t, and that’s all on them. Indeed, to the extent they thought anything about it, they probably thought it was clever or funny. It would not have occurred to them that there was anything wrong with it.

        • JonH

          “It would not have occurred to them that there was anything wrong with it.”

          They might have chalked it up to casino tackiness.

          • jam

            That’s no excuse for allowing this to continue and if you read the first sentence of the fine article, you’d see they allowed this to continue at their offices, not at a casino.

            Washington Post staffers are expressing concern to top business-side executives at the company after guests at an election night party at the paper’s headquarters were encouraged to remove napkins from a female server’s body.

  • southdak

    Notwithstanding everything wrong with the DC press corp.

    And understand I’m all in on women’s rights – including the right to terminate a pregnancy for any reason at any time.

    But this seems like people being a little bit too PC. Sounds kind of tame. Perhaps there are bigger battles to wage!?

    I wasn’t there, but on its face, this seems like the kind of battle only rich white people would take on because they have the time and no other life problems to worry about.

    • Warren Terra

      I don’t think you take a feature designed for a bachelor party and toss it into the corporate holiday bash. There will be women at that party, after all, who might appreciate being treated as if they were real people and not reminded that important people see them as livestock.

      I’m overstating it a bit, but: WTF? Do you think there should be (single-sex!) go-go dancers at the event? A scantily clad entertainer bursting out of a cake?

      A lot of nitwits like to sneer that things are “PC”, and of course there are stories of the concept being taken too far. But usually not! Usually when something is described as being “PC” it could as easily be described as “simple courtesy”. Or even “opting not to be a monumental jerk”. This is pretty clearly one of those times.

      • southdak

        Agree with everything you say. This was inappropriate. Just saying we have bigger things to worry about – media related and otherwise.

  • Origami Isopod

    Another thing that should be obvious is that people who tell members of oppressed groups to calm down have really earned that STFU.

    INCOMING!!!

    • jam
      • Origami Isopod

        Twitter is mostly a sewer, but I think that tweet makes it all worthwhile.

        • @birdsrightsactivist is one of the best Twitter accounts out there.

    • N__B

      Not all men took a napkin from the dress.

  • MPAVictoria

    Always amazed at the behavior some people think is appropriate.

  • NewishLawyer

    I’ve been thinking about why most of the Press except select outfits like Slate seem to be highly sympathetic to the whole WWC element more than the “it’s racism” element.

    The answer I keep coming to is that most journalists are still white and many Generation X and Baby Boomer journalists probably had white working class upbringings and even as they went professional class, they retained those sympathies. Combine this with some “salt of the earth” liberalish nostaliga and there you go.

    Plus the whole cult of savviness really needs to be something that journalist students are given a tough time on.

    • It’s not cool to talk about racism.

    • jam

      Talking about racism makes white people feel bad, tune out, and not buy your sponsor’s products.

      • It was Vox, I think, that mentioned a study where bringing up racism, or even just seeing some brown guys talking Spanish, made white ppl feel more racist.

        To be able to write sensibly about racism, white reporters have to be able to admit to harboring a little racism themselves. They’d rather not, evidently.

        (& just for the record: I’m a white guy raised in the South by racist parents. Of course I’m not magically immune. It’s a process.)

        • Phil Perspective

          It was Vox, I think, that mentioned a study where bringing up racism, or even just seeing some brown guys talking Spanish, made white ppl feel more racist.

          To be able to write sensibly about racism, white reporters have to be able to admit to harboring a little racism themselves. They’d rather not, evidently.

          Given they employ Yglesias, and the views he’s espoused in the past, you expect him to admit that?

    • Data I’ve been looking at indicates reporters/newscasters are overwhelmingly male and white.

      Anecdotally, reporters come don’t come from working class backgrounds.

    • FlipYrWhig

      They love this story. It’s favored by Chris Matthews and Thomas Frank and, now, Bernie Sanders himself. It’s a story about how the Democratic Party became the party of effete, politically correct elitists, which the reporters know themselves to be. It’s like how Tom Brokaw felt guilty about not going to Vietnam so he decided to make a career kissing the butts of World War II vets to redeem himself symbolically in front of his symbolic father. Now reporters get to wallow in guilt for overlooking rednecks and make it someone else’s fault.

    • libarbarian

      I’ve been thinking about why most of the Press except select outfits like Slate seem to be highly sympathetic to the whole WWC element more than the “it’s racism” element.

      Maybe because accusing vast swaths of your readership of being racist dicks, however true, is a very bad business decision.

      Salon and Slate can do it because they are mainly read by the kind of progressives pretentious enough to actually self-apply the label “woke” *eyeroll*.

      • Please pick up all of the straw when you leave.

    • Dr. Ronnie James, DO

      For whatever reason, I happened to know five people who became professional journalists. All five were Caucasian, from comfortable upper middle class backgrounds. Four of the five were male. Three of the four males were Brogressives in the Matt Taibbi / [BONERS] mold. Draw your own conclusions.

      • Linnaeus

        Journalism turned into that kind of profession a long time.

        • Origami Isopod

          “J-school” and journalism as a major were mistakes. It’s not surprising that the degree has evolved into a “Communications” (read: PR and marketing) degree at many colleges.

  • DrDick

    This, as much as anything, is why I maintain that there is no mainstream “liberal media”. The move by all of the major media outlets to normalize the abomination that is the Trump administration comes as absolutely no surprise.

  • rdennist

    What’s the over-under on Trump getting criticism when he turns out to be less accessible than Clinton?

    • Warren Terra

      Well, he went the last hundred days of the campaign without taking questions from the assembled press (during which time Clinton did this a dozen times), and essentially all the interviews he did were brief grip-and-grins with the local press or were with Fox News hosts specially picked to adore him. That’s not to mention the obvious failures of transparency (tax returns, health disclosure, etcetera). So I think that horse has flown, hasn’t it?

      • wjts

        On the other hand, he’s taken some flack for his wanton disregard of the protective press pool, the Republic’s most ancient and sacrosanct institution. His snub of the Washington Post also played a part in that paper actually deciding to do some actual investigative reporting. I think there’s reason for cautious optimism, but I certainly wouldn’t bet the farm on it.

      • N__B

        all the interviews he did were brief grip-and-grins

        I, for one, am not ready to discuss DJT’s masturbation practices.

  • cpinva

    “Who among us hasn’t accidentally ordered a model clad in napkins for a party? I bet parents planning entertainment for their children’s birthday parties do it all of the time.”

    well heck yeah! happened at our son’s first birthday party, and boy, were we embarrassed! on the bright side though, they were really excellent napkins.

    • (((Malaclypse)))

      I remember last year, mini-Mal was furious, because we got the model with Frozen napkins, and Frozen is so last year, and why didn’t we get My Little Pony, and we ruined everything!!!

      So this year we’re going with a John de Lancie lookalike with an MLP napkin loincloth.

  • I read that headline a bunch of times (not zoomed in), thinking: someone had a post-election party, but who threw it?

    • cpinva

      pick an oligarch, any oligarch.

      • For that matter, I thought it was going to be a different kind of napkin . . .

  • JonH

    David Vitter heard something about a “waitress dressed in nappies” and booked a room.

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