Question: Is it right to fire someone for their past mistakes?
One week before Alexi McCammond was to start as editor-in-chief of Condé Nast’s Teen Vogue, she has agreed to “part ways” with the company over racist tweets she had posted as a teenager a decade ago.
Condé Nast announced the appointment of McCammond, formerly a political reporter at Axios, to the EIC spot at the all-digital Teen Vogue brand on March 5. Soon afterward, since-deleted Twitter posts came to light in which she used derogatory stereotypes about Asians and homophobic language. McCammond had deleted the offensive tweets two years ago but screenshots of the tweets were recirculated after news of her Teen Vogue appointment.
“My past tweets have overshadowed the work I’ve done to highlight the people and issues that I care about — issues that Teen Vogue has worked tirelessly to share with the world — and so Condé Nast and I have decided to part ways,” she said in a statement, which she shared in a tweet.
McCammond added, “I should not have tweeted what I did and I have taken full responsibility for that. I look at my work and growth in the years since, and have redoubled my commitment to growing in the years to come as both a person and as a professional.” In her statement, she said, “I became a journalist to help lift up the stories and voices of our most vulnerable communities. As a young woman of color, that’s part of the reason I was so excited to lead the Teen Vogue team in their next chapter.”
Condé Nast confirmed that McCammond has resigned from the Teen Vogue job.
In a memo to U.S. employees Thursday that was obtained by Variety, Condé Nast head of HR Stan Duncan said that McCammond was “straightforward and transparent about these posts during our interview process and through public apologies years ago.” After meeting with her on March 18, Duncan wrote, “we agreed that it was best to part ways, so as to not overshadow the important work happening at Teen Vogue.”
According to social media posts, McCammond’s old tweets — which dated back to 2011 — included “Now googling how to not wake up with swollen, asian eyes” and “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.”
Last week, a group of 20-plus Teen Vogue staffers posted a statement on Twitter saying they had sent a letter complaining about McCammond’s tweets to Condé Nast management. “In a moment of historically high anti-Asian violence and amid the ongoing struggles of the LGBTQ community, we as the staff of Teen Vogue fully reject these sentiments,” the group said in the statement.
Amid the controversy, retailer Ulta Beauty last week said it was suspending ads on Teen Vogue and was in talks with Condé Nast “as we seek to better understand their next steps and determine ours.”
In response to McCammond’s resignation announcement, Axios CEO and co-founder Jim VandeHei tweeted comments in support of his former employee. “You will always be part of the @axios family,” VandeHei replied to McCammond. “@alexi admited [sic] her mistakes, repented (years ago and again of late) and showed during her four years with us she was a strong woman with a big heart. She was a great colleague who often stood up 4 others. Sad outcome @TeenVogue.”
McCammond, 27, first joined Axios in 2017 covering politics was the lead reporter covering President Biden’s 2020 campaign. She also appeared on NBC and MSNBC as a contributor as well as “Axios on HBO.” In 2019, the National Association of Black Journalists named her Emerging Journalist of the Year. McCammond started in media as freelancer for Cosmopolitan before joining Bustle as a news editor during the 2016 election.
Condé Nast shut down the regular print edition of Teen Vogue in late 2017, after having cut the mag’s frequency that year to quarterly. In January 2021, according to the company, Teen Vogue had 10.8 million unique visitors (up 21% year over year) who spent over 18 million minutes on the site — its highest monthly time-spent to date.