Condé Nast Staffers Expose Entertainment Chief’s Old Tweets About Mexicans and Women

Condé Nast Staffers Expose Entertainment Chief’s Old Tweets About Mexicans and Women

After the editor of Bon Appétit resigned on Monday over diversity pay practices and an old photo of him in brownface, Condé Nast staffers have begun raising questions about another executive’s old social-media posts.

During an all-staff meeting on Tuesday, one anonymous employee posted a question asking about Condé Nast Entertainment chief Oren Katzeff’s old tweet about sexual consent.

“Wonder why CNE has a company culture that allows leadership to have posts like this on their timelines,” the person wrote, linking to a since-deleted 2010 tweet in which Katzeff wrote: “Earlier today, I saw a girl wearing a shirt that said ‘No means Yes!’ That might explain why the guy holding her hand was smiling…”

That tweet has since been deleted, but following the meeting, several irate staffers sent The Daily Beast other years-old tweets from Katzeff.

“Millie went up to the Mexican waiter and asked him for paper (to draw on). He thought she was asking for his papers. Comedy ensued,” Katzeff wrote in one 2014 tweet being shared by Condé employees.

“My 2 yr old gets a present for pottying like a big girl. Now she wants presents for all big girl things, like nagging and being irrational,” read another post, from 2011, which was deleted Tuesday.

“There either is a cat on my flight, meowing repeatedly a few rows behind me, or a REALLY horny woman,” Katzeff wrote in another 2014 post, which was also removed. 

In a statement to The Daily Beast, Katzeff apologized but noted that he was working at a comedic publication at the time he made the social-media posts. 

“These tweets were made at a time when I was working in comedy and in a different role in my life, but that doesn’t excuse them,” he said. “History has shown that they are not funny and I regret posting them. I’m sorry for the offense and pain they may have caused.”

Katzeff joined Condé Nast to head up the company’s entertainment production unit in 2018 after running programming at Tastemade for five years. The CNE president has overseen some of the company’s massive expansion into video and entertainment spaces, as well as its film and television initiatives.

On Monday, Bon Appétit editor-in-chief Adam Rapoport announced his resignation after a 2013 photo of him and his wife resurfaced showing them dressed up as stereotypical Puerto Ricans for Halloween. Several Bon Appétit staffers immediately called for his resignation, especially after one employee wrote in an Instagram that “only white editors are paid for their video appearances.” 

During Tuesday’s all-staff meeting, Condé Nast CEO Roger Lynch said the company will take a number of steps to combat racial inequality inside and outside of the company. 

Condé will scrutinize its internal company makeup by “accelerating our first ever diversity and inclusion report to be published later this summer,” Lynch said, noting that company brass would also conduct a pay-equity study. While he reaffirmed Condé Nast leadership’s commitment to increasing its diversity in leadership roles, Lynch admitted: “We still have a lot of work to do.”

The CEO also reiterated that the magazine publisher was providing “financial support” and “a million dollars in advertising support” to nonprofits committed to fighting racism, as well as a “substantial donation” to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. 

Lynch additionally argued that employees need to speak up about diversity issues internally, and suggested the onus was partially on staff to highlight them in internal company channels. 

“I urge you: take advantage of the internal channels to express these concerns or share these ideas so we can work together to avoid these issues,” he said. “I think if people had used the internal channels and raised concerns about this earlier on, we would’ve been able to address them. But we can only solve problems if we talk about our problems.”

Like many other media companies, the historic magazine publisher has been forced to make huge cuts in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and the resultant economic downturn.

Last month, Condé Nast announced that it furloughed 100 employees, laid off some staff, and instituted company-wide tiered pay reductions. 

During Tuesday’s meeting the company also announced that it plans to reinstate full employee salaries in September, and that it would re-evaluate some of the furloughs—though Lynch also said the company could not guarantee no future layoffs or furloughs.

But Lynch also faced tough questions on a number of other recent Condé Nast moves. Staff pressed the CEO on whether company leaders could have taken larger salary reductions themselves to avoid layoffs for staff. 

Lynch also acknowledged that the announcement of the hiring of two new VPs on the same day the company furloughed 100 staff “wasn’t opportune.”

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