Social media platform X, formerly called Twitter, issued a brutal context update on a Washington Post piece about Barstool founder Dave Portnoy, who earlier in the week taped a call he had confronting one of the reporters writing what he deemed a “hit piece.”
During his taped conversation, Portnoy pressed reporter Emily Heil about why she was contacting participating pizzerias and sponsors of his “One Bite Pizza Festival” and seemingly asking them to defend their decision to participate in the event, while describing Portnoy as having a “history of misogynistic comments and other problematic behavior.” Notably, Heil told Portnoy on the call that she wanted the advertisers to think something negative was going to be printed, which she said is a press tactic used to get a response.
“A phone call between Emily Heil and Dave Portney was shared prior to publication, in which the WaPo journalist admits to intentionally misleading advertisers into speaking negatively of the One Bite Pizza Festival,” X said in a note labeled “Readers added context,” adding, “They agreed to an interview the next day but Wapo cancelled.”
“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,” Portnoy commented following the Post’s publication of the story.
In a video of the call, which has garnered 43 million views, Portnoy pressed Heil about her journalism tactics. “We have this Pizzafest happening on Saturday, and you’re reaching out to our advertisers,” he said. “You’re basically sending an email that says, to the effect, ‘Dave’s a misogynic racist. Do you want to defend yourselves advertising at this event?’ Right?”
“We are planning to write about the festival and how some of the sponsors and participants have drawn criticism by seeming to associate themselves with Dave Portnoy, who has a history of misogynistic comments and other problematic behavior,” Portnoy read Heil’s email.
During the conversation, the reporter shockingly told Portnoy, “You know, sometimes you have to say something like this is like, you know, it’s sort of a reporting tactic. When you want someone to respond, you kind of have to indicate that there might be something negative and then you get them to engage. That’s all I was trying to do.”
Portnoy on Saturday commented on the Post receiving the context update from X. “That [Washington Post] got community noted for lying,” he wrote. “Ain’t no fun when the rabbit got the gun.”
Notably, none of Portnoy’s sponsors pulled out of the event, despite the Post’s apparent efforts.
“None of the pizzerias or sponsors contacted by The Post indicated that they were pulling their support,” the piece said. “Some said they lent their name and reputation to the event in exchange for publicity or access to the young, social media-savvy audience that Portnoy attracts. And some support Portnoy, whom they see as a champion of small business. His pizza reviews, they say, can increase revenue up to 50 percent. They point out that his Barstool Fund has raised tens of millions of dollars to help restaurants and other small businesses during the pandemic.”
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