Staffers at Teen Vogue on Monday publicly blasted their newly hired editor in chief Alexi McCammond, particularly taking aim at parent company Condé Nast’s hiring process along with some of the new editor’s past tweets that deployed harmful Asian stereotypes.
In a statement shared on Twitter, the digital publication’s staff voiced concern over the hiring of McCammond, a former Axios political reporter who last month was at the center of the Biden administration’s first media-related scandal.
“As more than 20 members of the staff of Teen Vogue, we've built our outlet’s reputation as a voice for justice and change—we take immense pride in our work and in creating an inclusive environment. That’s why we have written a letter to management at Condé Nast about the recent hire of Alexi McCammond as our new editor-in-chief in light of her past racist and homophobic tweets,” the staffers wrote. “We’ve heard the concerns of our readers, and we stand with you. In a moment of historically high anti-Asian violence and amid the on-going struggles of the LGBTQ community, we as the staff of Teen Vogue fully reject those sentiments. We are hopeful that an internal conversation will prove fruitful in maintaining the integrity granted to us by our audience.”
In addition to the public statement, The Daily Beast also learned that Teen Vogue staff privately expressed concerns on Monday to Condé Nast’s global chief content officer Anna Wintour and CEO Roger Lynch about the hiring process and the decision to tap McCammond for the top job.
“Alexi McCammond was appointed editor-in-chief of Teen Vogue because of the values, inclusivity and depth she has displayed through her journalism. Throughout her career she has dedicated herself to being a champion for marginalized voices. Two years ago she took responsibility for her social media history and apologized,” a Condé Nast spokesperson said in a statement.
And in a staff-wide note sent Monday to her new colleagues and obtained by The Daily Beast, McCammond wrote: “I’m beyond sorry for what you have experienced over the last twenty-four hours because of me. You’ve seen some offensive, idiotic tweets from when I was a teenager that perpetuated harmful and racist stereotypes about Asian Americans. I apologized for them years ago, but I want to be clear today: I apologize deeply to all of you for the pain this has caused. There’s no excuse for language like that. I am determined to use the lessons I’ve learned as a journalist to advocate for a more diverse and equitable world. Those tweets aren’t who I am, but I understand that I have lost some of your trust, and will work doubly hard to earn it back. I want you to know I am committed to amplifying AAPI voices across our platforms, and building upon the groundbreaking, inclusive work this title is known for the world over.”
She continued: “I’m heartbroken by the nasty vitriol some of you have experienced in the wake of this situation. It is completely unacceptable. But as we navigate through this together, what matters to me is crushing the work we do. My number one mission in leading you through this next chapter is to make you all feel more confident, comfortable, and fearless in your storytelling and the boundaries we can push together as a team. From the bottom of my heart, thank you all for this opportunity and for sticking with me.”
While McCammond garnered praise among political journalists for her coverage of the Trump White House and the 2020 election (she was named the emerging journalist of the year in 2019 by the National Association of Black Journalists), and could ostensibly help Teen Vogue sharpen its focus on politics—a coverage area the magazine leaned into during the Trump years—her hiring was met with some skepticism within the company.
Critical staffers privately pointed out that McCammond, who is 27 years old, has significantly less editing experience than even some of the publication’s existing staff. Her hiring also came at an awkward moment: In recent weeks, her dating life became the center of a bizarre D.C. blowup after her boyfriend TJ Ducklo was forced to resign as Biden’s deputy press secretary after making threats and derogatory comments to a Politico reporter who reported on McCammond and Ducklo’s relationship.
But the tipping point for concerned staffers appeared to be the old tweets, posted in 2011 by a college-aged McCammond and recirculated over the weekend, in which she deployed racist stereotypes about Asian people.
“Now googling how to not wake up with swollen, asian eyes…” she wrote in one of the tweets. “Give me a 2/10 on my chem problem, cross out all of my work and don’t explain what i did wrong...thanks a lot stupid asian T.A. you’re great,” read another social-media post.
Diana Tsui, a reporter formerly of New York magazine’s The Cut, shared the tweets in a viral Instagram post over the weekend, saying they represented another example of Condé Nast’s inability to address racism among the company’s leadership.
“Teen Vogue has positioned itself as a champion of inclusiveness and empowerment. Is this truly a leader who embodies these beliefs?” she wrote. “Time and time again this shows that gatekeepers pay lip service to diversity. They don’t believe anti-racism policies can and should include Asian Americans.”
McCammond, who is Black, previously apologized for the tweets, which were first recirculated in 2019. In a statement at the time, the then-Axios reporter said she was “deeply sorry to anyone I offended. I have since deleted those tweets as they do not reflect my views or who I am today.”
Still, Tsui’s post caught the eye of some prominent Asian journalists and fashion influencers, as well as some prominent celebrities. “What the actual fuck?” director and actress Olivia Munn commented on the post.
Over the past year, Condé Nast has grappled with internal unrest over accusations that it has fostered a toxic work environment for nonwhite staff. Bon Appétit’s editor-in-chief Adam Rapoport resigned after an old photo in which he wore a racially insensitive costume resurfaced, sparking complaints about racial biases within the company and the departure of several staffers who said the food magazine paid nonwhite employees less than their white counterparts.
Following Rapoport’s departure, Lynch told staff in a number of internal meetings that the company was committed to combating racial inequities, pointing to an internal pay study the company was conducting as well as donations the publisher made to groups like the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.
“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 during one meeting. “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.”