Former Onion staffers Monday reacted with dismay to the satirical newspaper's apology for calling a 9-year-old a "cunt," saying the apology marked a loss of editorial freedom.
"It shows they don't have faith in the writers, or in their public. It looks worse that they took [the tweet] down," one former Onion editor, Joe Garden, told BuzzFeed.
Onion CEO Steve Hannah, who recently oversaw the paper's relocation to Chicago and the departure of much of its core staff, released a statement Monday offering "my personal apology to Quvenzhané Wallis and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for the tweet that was circulated last night during the Oscars. It was crude and offensive — not to mention inconsistent with The Onion's commitment to parody and satire, however biting."
But former Onion staffers don't see it that way. Hannah's statement, Garden said, marked "the first time The Onion has ever retracted anything and run a real apology."
"My reaction was, 'It wasn't a great joke, but big deal,'" Garden said. "I saw where they were going, and the commentary was about the media construct and the Oscar hype in general. But the tweet was shocking for the sake of shocking, but I think that [taking it down] was not the way to handle it."
Another former Onion News Network writer warned the CEO would use this tweet to compromise the organization's editorial freedom.
Garden, along with a handful of former Onion staffers — including former editor in chief Joseph Randazzo — started a new project with Adult Swim called Thing X. The Thing X writers' response to The Onion incident was to publish a mock press release on the Thing X Facebook page, writing
[W]e have taken immediate action and murdered every intern involved with these incidents.
I feel like such a cunt right now.
The Onion has moved most of its operations to Chicago and has suffered layoffs and cuts this year. In 2012, the majority of its editorial staff — with many citing a loss of creative freedom — left the publication and started new projects in New York City.
Onion CEO's full apology
On behalf of The Onion, I offer my personal apology to Quvenzhané Wallis and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for the tweet that was circulated last night during the Oscars. It was crude and offensive—not to mention inconsistent with The Onion's commitment to parody and satire, however biting.
No person should be subjected to such a senseless, humorless comment masquerading as satire.
The tweet was taken down within an hour of publication. We have instituted new and tighter Twitter procedures to ensure that this kind of mistake does not occur again.
In addition, we are taking immediate steps to discipline those individuals responsible.
Miss Wallis, you are young and talented and deserve better. All of us at The Onion are deeply sorry.