After Uproar Over Hillary Clinton/Bitch Joke, Post Pulls Plug On “Mouthpiece Theater”

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August 5, 2009 10:53 am
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Remember how last week, in an episode of the much-derided web series Mouthpiece Theater, Washington Post reporters Dana Milbank and Chris Cillizza joked that “Mad Bitch” beer would be an appropriate beverage for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton? Well, after TPMDC’s initial report on the episode, the Post has killed the feature entirely.

“I don’t think the series worked as they intended,” said Post Executive Editor Marcus Brauchli. “It was meant to be funny and insightful and translate the superb journalism Chris and Dana do in print and online into a new format.”

But…it wasn’t. The Clinton joke, he said, was “a serious lapse. . . . It’s really beneath us and not something we should engage in.” After the Clinton firestorm, the Post pulled that episode off its website. Apparently, though, the controversy led to a wider discussion about the merits of the feature itself, and the Post decided enough was enough.

“We’d hoped the self-deprecating humor of me and the irreverent humor of Dana would combine to make something funny and interesting and on the news. It wound up not working,” said Cillizza. “Ultimately it wasn’t funny.”

And, he says, he’ll apologize for it. “[The joke] was inappropriate, over the line and highlighted the broader problems with the show. I’m personally apologizing on The Fix. It’s not consistent with the Post brand, but more important to me, it’s not consistent with the Fix brand I’ve worked to cultivate — insider, straight-dope journalism that tries to shoot down the middle.”

Milbank isn’t done joking, though. “I regret that we put up that image,” Milbank told Howard Kurtz, “and while I highly doubt the secretary of state has seen ‘Mouthpiece Theater,’ I would be honored to have the opportunity to apologize to her over a beer.”

Late update: A classy post on the controversy from Chris Cillizza.

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