A fast rise and a faster fall
After a public backlash over decade-old tweets and supposed pulled ad revenue, Teen Vogue's editor steps down.
Hello! So it turns out that having a job is great (who knew?!) but is also very time consuming.
A lot has happened since we last saw each other.
(Image via HBO/Axios)
A little more than a month ago, we learned that an Axios reporter covering the Biden campaign was dating a Biden deputy press secretary, TJ Ducklo, which landed them a puff piece in People that aimed to soften the blow of a coming Politico piece, opening the Pandora’s box of journalistic ethics, ultimately putting the deputy press secretary in the penalty box, and then resignation box after saying some abusive and gross things to a female Politico reporter.
That Axios reporter, Alexi McCammond, was taken off the Biden beat in November to cover Congress and progressives, Politico reported on February 9. Just four weeks later, however, the 27-year-old reporter was hired to be Teen Vogue’s next editor-in-chief. On March 5, the Conde Nast publication tasked her with being “responsible for the editorial vision of Teen Vogue across digital, video and all social platforms.”
In a statement at the time, Conde Nast editorial doyenne Anna Wintour said:
“Alexi has the powerful curiosity and confidence that embodies the best of our next generation of leaders. Her interest in fashion, wellness and important issues in the lives of the Teen Vogue audience and broad knowledge of business leaders, elected officials, influencers, photographers and filmmakers is unrivaled, and I’m so very pleased that she will be bringing her expertise and talents to our team.”
Perhaps this is where the story would have ended, should have ended; an enthusiastic new editor to take over an 18-year-old brand that has clawed its way to a media brand that stands for something after shuttering its print publication amid one of the many corporate restructurings four years ago, and perhaps give it some of that Gen Z magic.
And then came the tweets.
It turns out posting to Twitter is bad. And McCammond found out that even if you already once apologized in the past for bad tweets, what you Tweet as a 17-year-old stays with you, coming back to haunt you.
(Side note: I am quite thankful that Twitter was not around when I was a teenager.)
After the trumpets blared for McCammond, the New York Times reports today:
Her job status became shaky days after Condé Nast named her to the position, when the offensive tweets she had posted as a teenager in 2011 resurfaced. They included comments on the appearance of Asian features, derogatory stereotypes about Asians and slurs for gay people. Ms. McCammond had apologized for the tweets in 2019 and deleted them. Screenshots of the tweets were recirculated on social media after her hiring at Teen Vogue was announced on March 5.
Within days, more than 20 staff members at Teen Vogue posted a note on social media saying they had made a complaint to company leaders about the tweets, and Ms. McCammond apologized for them again both publicly and in meetings with Condé Nast staff. “I’ve apologized for my past racist and homophobic tweets and will reiterate that there’s no excuse for perpetuating those awful stereotypes in any way,” she wrote in a March 10 letter posted on her Twitter account. “I am so sorry to have used such hurtful and inexcusable language.”
Today, McCammond said she was “parting ways” with Teen Vogue.
The judgement here is bad all around.
Conde made a poor decision in hiring McCammond in the first place. Tweets notwithstanding, giving the editorial keys to someone who has never edited or managed reporters is a curious choice; especially when editorial judgement was in question for dating a person whose boss you cover. She never had the newsroom on her side.
Steven Thrasher, a journalism professor at Northwestern, has a long and winding thread about suppositions that cover this and some suppositions of Wintour.
The Daily Beast, which has been on the outing-journalists-saying-racist-things beat recently, first reported this story, after it also ran a piece about Ulta pulling a seven-figure ad spend from Teen Vogue because of McCammond’s tweets.
Popular cosmetics and skincare retailer Ulta Beauty said in a statement to The Daily Beast on Wednesday that it is halting its current advertising campaign with the Condé Nast-owned publication. According to people familiar with the situation, the deal was worth seven figures.
“Diversity and inclusion are core values at Ulta Beauty—and always have been,” a company spokesperson said. “Our current spend with Teen Vogue is paused as we work with Condé Nast to evaluate the situation and determine next steps regarding our partnership.”
This was March 10. On March 11, Ulta announced it hired a new CEO. It pulled a seven-figure deal because of 10-year-old tweets from a teenager the day before it hired a new CEO after, according to Reuters, it “missed expectations of $10.61 as demand for make-up products remains under pressure due to extended work-from-home policies.”
On March 15, Teen Vogue published a story titled “Ulta Beauty's 21 Days of Beauty Sale 2021 Deals, All In One Place.”
With the specter of an advertiser pulling spend, a newsroom that couldn’t trust its editor, and an ongoing public relations nightmare, McCammond wasn’t long for that seat.
This is a sad story on many levels and a reminder that the only rule in life to keep you safe: Never tweet.
Phish, “I Been Around”
Some interesting links:
For what could be the most ridiculous and cynical idea in a very long time:
Facebook Is Building An Instagram For Kids Under The Age Of 13 (BuzzFeed)
For what could be the most ridiculous attempt to repeat a scandal:
A Private Investigator Hired by The Sun to Spy on Meghan Markle and Her Father has Apologised to the Duchess – and the Queen (Byline Investigates)
For what could be the most ridiculous way to get your staff to hate you:
Internal Memo: ICF Next Used Promise of Employee Vaccinations as Phishing Test (Agency Spy)
For advice on advertising with Fox News:
Here’s what you should do about your Fox News ads (Branded)
For 11 more years of listening to Joe Buck call NFL games on Fox:
NFL media rights deal locked up until 2033 (CNBC)