UPDATE: Washington Post Responds to Women Protesting 'Mad Bitch' Video
UPDATE: Washington Post Executive Editor Marcus Brauchli, in response to the letter of protest sent by members of Women, Action & the Media regarding the Post's controversial "Menage a Stella Artois" episode of its Mouthpiece Theater video program, sent the signers the following letter this evening. I think it's a pretty classy letter:
Thank you for your letter about the July 31 episode of "Mouthpiece Theater."
We are aware of and sensitive to the issues that you raise, although we don't see all of them quite as you do. It is plainly true that humor doesn't deconstruct well (and we realize you may dispute that the video contained any humor).
We removed the video from our site on Friday because, as we said at the time, parts of the video went beyond what we believe should have been published on The Post's site. We have since published a note to readers on the video player of the website, something we should have done immediately.
We did not have a good process in place for reviewing videos before they are published on our site, and we are correcting that.
We appreciate your commitment to responsible journalism and the high standards to which The Washington Post has always held itself. We share it.
As reported here yesterday, the group Women, Action and the Media (WAM!) yesterday delivered a letter to Washington Post Executive Editor Marcus Brauchli (among the signers was yours truly), protesting the now infamous "Mad Bitch" video. Today the Mouthpiece Theater series, of which the video was a part, was killed. Here's the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz, in a piece explaining why the series was pulled:
In a letter to Brauchli on Tuesday that was signed by 32 women, the organization Women, Action and the Media demanded an explanation for what it called "the video's patently sexist -- and otherwise tasteless -- content," which the writers said displayed "misogyny" and "utter contempt for women" as well as racial insensitivity.
This morning, Politico's Michael Calderone blogged about the letter, and MediaBistro's FishbowlDC ran an item.
Last Friday, TPM's Brian Beutler shone a light on a video produced by the Washington Post that featured one of the two columnists hosting the piece suggesting that, at a future White House beer summit, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton be given a brew called "Mad Bitch." Then all hell broke loose.
The Post apparently thought it could fix the problem by simply pulling the video. A note was posted above the hole where the video used to be, reading that the piece had been removed because it contained material that was "innappropriate" for the Post Web site. As if it had landed there from Mars. As if it hadn't been written and produced in the Washington Post building by Washington Post staffers.
Then, yesterday, the two columnists, Chris Cillizza and Dana Milbank had the effrontery to post what amounts to a "screw-you" response video to the criticism they had received from bloggers.
Progressives, including us at AlterNet, were having none of it. And feminists were determined to see that such a thing wouldn't happen again.
So the series has been canceled, and Cillizza has apologized. Milbank remains pretty unrepentant, instead whining about the drubbing he took at the hands of blogosphere denizens. From Kurtz's piece:
"It's a brutal world out there in the blogosphere," Milbank said. "I'm often surprised by the ferocity out there, but I probably shouldn't be."
Brauchli, for his part, did not exactly apologize, but said the original video constituded "a serious lapse. . . . It's really beneath us and not something we should engage in."
It does not appear that there will be any disciplinary action. Again, from Kurtz:
As if to signal that their standing at The Post remains unaffected, Brauchli praised both reporters. He called Cillizza "an enormous talent and someone who is closely followed and admired by a lot of journalists and people in politics. . . . Dana writes a terrific, very funny and usually very popular column on Page 2. He's an equal-opportunity offender, and from time to time everyone's mad at him."