What happened in the racism scandal at Bon Appetít

Originally published at: What happened in the racism scandal at Bon Appetít | Boing Boing

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This podcast is good. Another site brought it to my attention last week, and here I am, eagerly awaiting the third installment. It’s been really good to see how historically problematic BA’s internal culture has been, especially since my wife and I were fans of the YouTube channel since at least a year before the pandemic.

To me, though, I knew that something was going to happen due to a lasting cringe moment from a panel the whole YouTube cast + Adam Rappaport did at the beginning of last year. Rappaport confused the names of the two Indian Americans on stage. It was very striking and made me not want to continue the video. Turns out the moment was indeed not so insignificant.


I also truly enjoyed episodes 1 and 2 and especially the spotlight of focus. That said… Some in the know at Gimlet have been saying some version of “physician heal thyself”.
Check Eric Eddings Twitter post on the subject.

Hopefully these issues will be dealt with in ep 3 and or 4.


From what I’ve understood, this has been just as much a Conde Nast problem as a Bon Appetit one, and long pre-dates Rapoport’s tenure. As such it’s as much about classism as it is about racism, to a degree that it illustrates how toxic and twisted CN’s corporate culture has been going back decades.

It’s a self-perpetuating dysfunction that goes from top to bottom and bottom to top. For exmple, when unpaid internships were still allowed (meaning only the children of the wealthy could get their foot in the door of the NYC media-industrial complex) Conde Nast was notorious for being especially discriminating and clubby when it came to its selection process. The intern’s family not only had to have enough money to subsidise a Manhattan lifestyle for their little darling, it had to be ultra-wealthy and/or have a “social register” name and/or have some sort of cultural cachet (e.g. child of a movie star or star athlete). Also, the intern couldn’t have gone to just any university but had to come from name-brand Ivy, research or liberal arts schools.

Even the “diversity hires” there had to have some sort of pedigree. This kind of attitude was reflected at the top management, so you had a corporate culture at a major media conglomerate that was completely disconnected from the actual concerns and sensibilities of ordinary PoC in America. Casual racism and microaggressions are the natural outcomes in that kind of atmosphere.


WAPA (San Juan ch4, wapa.tv) had a very popular show with a blackface host as recently as 2012.

I saw Eric Eddings Twitter post shortly after I submitted this post. Oof. Though it’s sadly not surprising, either—these issues of power and race replicate all across the media industry (as well as others).


I’d even expand that mentality to a lot of NYC institutions like the NY Times, TV and the art world, that certainly extends its tendrils into Boston, DC, and California.

It’s just a weird self-reinforcing culture. It’s an ostensibly liberal world that still feels more comfortable with people like Henry Kissinger or William Barr than Harry Reid or Hillary Clinton. It’s a community that is happy to prattle on about diversity but is obsessed with scary fables of college cancel culture, ultimately because ten Harvard undergrads signing a protest letter dredges up memories of a dining hall snubbing 30 years ago.

These stories are why I get so frustrated by people who constantly reduce problems in the media to ratings or clicks. There are deep cultural issues driving so much of the failings in the ruling elites, and they do so even when it means huge lost opportunities to make vastly greater profits.

To a large extent the conservative rise in recent decades is because they have diagnosed and exploited the weak points and insecurities in the ruling culture. Breaking the exclusionary mindset of the elite is critical to getting out of the conservative trap, and I’m at least a little bit encouraged by pieces like this podcast which refuse to settle for all of the tired tropes you’d get from a typical NY Times culture war article.


Absolutely. Even by that evaluation, though, Conde Nast has been particularly awful. As one small aspect, I know for a fact that the particular culture there severely hobbled the company’s ability to build its digital presence during the Dotcom Boom years in a way that didn’t happen at companies like the NYT or the TV and film production companies.


As a former employee, I can attest to the holier-than-thou systemic king/queenship that the company has. There are too many middle managers defending their position at a private company that probably hasnt had much in the way of profits for years. I cant say that I saw a diversity issue there at least at my sector but there was a good deal of corruption for sure. The Newhouses probably dont even know half of what goes on/has gone on at their company. The only reason I feel this company is still even in existence is because they got the Port Authority (aka tax payer) to subsidize their NYC office rents from 2014. The photo in this article is 4 Times Square where Conde no longer is nor has been since 2014. That lease was supposed to expire in 2019. Douglas Durst, owner/part owner of 4 TS was also 50% owner of 1 WTC that couldnt land a big tenant. Conde and Durst agree that Conde can move downtown where the rents are lower and they are tons of abatement and for the remainder of the term at 4 Times Square, the Port Authority picks up the rent until Durst/PA can find a subtenant to take the space. So: Conde gets out of their lease at 4 Times Sq, abated rent at 1 WTC. Now that the abatement is done… Conde Nast is looking to get out of their WTC lease to move to Jersey…


That’s the sense I got from others who worked there. They’re like the Dolan family, kind of clueless.

There must be quite a lot of fanning and fainting amongst the editorial staff at the prospect of working across the river in NJ instead of in Manhattan. Delicious!


Thanks for suggesting to check out Eric Eddings’ tweets. Disappointing. The podcast series is partially tainted. I mentioned this to my wife, and she sadly had to point out this was to be expected. BA, Conde, Gimlet, etc. are not unique entities here. It doesn’t excuse the behavior in the least. But…the true standouts are the ones that aren’t monsters.

The challenges at Gimlet are mentioned towards the end of episode 2.
Overall, it is a good listen. Knowing that some white executives were interviewed but the recordings not included does leave me wondering. I’m not familiar with the players, but it sounds like hearing from them directly would be even more damning for them rather than not.

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Milkshake Duck


I would imagine they will have most work from home, the big-holier than thou execs will get chauffeured car service to and from home every day that they have to go in and those that are required in person and arent that highup will either have to take it or leave it. The company (mainly their ad exec and a few select mag chief editors, like Anna) have a rent-roll of about 200 cars that they lease for them (and pay for every expensive of it for them).

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