Washington Post Slapped With Blistering Fact Check Over ‘Pizzafest’ Hit Piece
55The Washington Post got slapped with a blistering fact check on Saturday after one of its reporters admitted on tape to pushing a false narrative about Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy as “a reporting tactic.”
Portnoy reportedly discovered last week that the Post intended to publish a story about his “One Bite Pizzafest” event and how sponsors faced backlash for their partnership with him. After Portnoy called reporter Emily Heil to confront her, she admitted that the controversy was her invention. Heil did not realize that Portnoy had been taping their call.
Despite the public outcry against the Post’s dishonest journalism, the outlet went ahead with publication anyway and earned a community note from X right underneath their social media post.
“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,” the community note says. “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 remarked following the story’s publication.
Portnoy posted an eleven-minute recording of the call with Heil on social media last week.
“We have this Pizzafest happening on Saturday, and you’re reaching out to our advertisers,” he told the reporter. “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 said, reading directly from Heil’s email to the sponsors.
“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,” Heil replied.
An official statement from Portnoy’s team later called the interaction “the official death of honest and fair journalism in America.”
“Emily ‘Caught Red Handed’ Heil and Tim ‘Probably An Ugly Loser’ Carman of the Washington Post put the final nail in the coffin with their weak and dishonest hit piece against David S. Portnoy and his One Bite pizzafest.”
“The [Washington Post] got community noted for lying,” Portnoy commented on the community note. “Ain’t no fun when the rabbit got the gun.”
According to the Washington Post’s coverage, not a single pizzeria contacted about the contrived controversy said they would pull support from the event.
“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,” the piece added.
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