A columnist for New York Magazine called out The Washington Post on Friday for its bizarre report about a woman who wore an offensive costume at a staffer’s 2018 Halloween Party.
The Post ran a widely criticized story on Thursday about a guest who satirically wore blackface as part of her costume to a party hosted by the paper’s cartoonist Tom Toles and how another guest, who was scarred by the event, complained to Toles nearly two years later amid the national dialogue following the death of George Floyd. Upon the release of the report, the woman was fired from her job.
Now, New York Magazine’s Josh Barro is demanding answers from Post executive editor Marty Baron and his journalists.
“If the WaPo ran this because they thought it was news, that’s a farce,” Barro began a thread. “But if they ran it as a PR strategy — get ahead of it, frame it so this woman bears the brunt, not our employees — that’s a scandal. Marty Baron and the Post staff owe us an explanation.”
The business columnist explained, “This is damaging to the reputation of the whole industry, a newspaper using its news pages as a strategic tool, violating its own editorial standards, and getting someone fired in the process.”
Barro then pointed out how the journalists behind the report, Washington Post senior editor Marc Fisher and local enterprise reporter Sydney Trent, didn’t share their reporting on their own Twitter accounts.
“It’s so chickenshit too, total silence from the Post about this story. Even the authors haven’t tweeted it! Where are you, @mffisher and @TrentPost? Do you stand behind your work?” Barro asked.
The Washington Post did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.
The Post reported that Toles received an email last week from Lexie Gruber, a guest who attended his annual Halloween party nearly two years ago despite never meeting the host, about an incident involving his friend, who wore blackface as part of her costume.
“In 2018, I attended a Halloween party at your home,” Gruber wrote to Toles. “I understand that you are not responsible for the behavior of your guests, but at the party, a woman was in Blackface. She harassed me and my friend — the only two women of color — and it was clear she made her ‘costume’ with racist intent.”
As explained in the report, Toles’ friend dressed up as then-recently ousted NBC host Megyn Kelly, who drew criticism for questioning if wearing blackface on Halloween was okay if the costume was meant out of respect and not out of mockery. However, the friend put on blackface as a satirical jab at Kelly as if the journalist was fine with the racist gesture.
Gruber, 27, told Toles that to this day the incident “weighed heavily on my heart — it was abhorrent and egregious,” particularly after the death of George Floyd and urged him to identify the woman from his party.
“I wanted to know who this woman is … What impact does she have on society?” Gruber wrote in the e-mail to Toles. “I think this is an important story — that a party full of prominent people in Washington welcomed a person in blackface, danced and drank with her, and watched in silence as she harassed two young women of color.”
Gruber and her friend Lyric Prince, who are Puerto Rican and African American respectively, confronted the woman at the party about the costume.
“You understand how offensive that could be to a person of color?” Gruber told her, who attempted to defend the costume.
According to the Post, “some guests at the party say they wish they had confronted her more aggressively” while “others say that she has already paid a price and that her embarrassment and regret were evident when she left the party in tears.”
Toles initially responded to Gruber by saying he didn’t know who was wearing blackface at his party but did recall telling his friend at the time that her costume was an “ill-considered attempt at satire.”
When he told Gruber he wouldn’t identify the friend, Gruber told him, “Hiding her name is a deliberate act of white privilege and cowardice, not friendship.”
Prince, 36, told the Post, “I felt very unsafe talking to that person in the first place. I was in an environment that, if it got heated, it would decidedly not be in my best interest.” She also revealed that she sought help from a therapist, saying she felt “threatened and physically and emotionally exposed… I felt powerless in a way that I never want to feel again.”
Witnesses said Gruber “yelled” at the woman after Prince confronted her and they both left the party shortly after.
The Post reported that the woman, a vocal critic of President Trump and an advocate for social causes on Facebook, knew she made a “terrible mistake” the moment she arrived at the party. She reportedly “spent many hours in therapy talking about ‘how carelessly I behaved. I’m deeply ashamed.'”
Following the party, she emailed Toles and his wife, Gretchen, to apologize.
“With this story, they’ll get the public humiliation they want, but it won’t foster any real dialogue between us,” the woman told the Post. “I wish they would talk to me. I made a mistake, and I understand now that when black people make a mistake, they can get killed.”
The Post also reported that when the woman informed her employer on Wednesday that a story about the blackface incident was about the be published, she was immediately fired.