Cancel culture becomes dangerous when it can be weaponized against someone — and it looks as though that’s exactly what happened to John Schnatter.
The Papa John’s Pizza founder was forced to step down from his role as company pitchman and CEO for using a racial slur during a May 2018 conference call.
At that time of the call, Schnatter was already in the left’s crosshairs and smeared as a racist for his outspoken objections to the NFL brass allowing players to kneel for the national anthem.
In an effort to resurrect his image, Schnatter enlisted the help of Laundry Service, a public relations and marketing firm.
Schnatter and other company executives were running through hypothetical situations on a conference call, trying to playbook how to handle openly-racist groups sidling up to the company and were working on ways to distance him from it — or so the then-CEO thought.
That’s when Schnatter used the actual racial slur when pointing out how Kentucky Fried Chicken founder Colonel Sanders said the N-word and faced no backlash.
Schnatter’s language was also labeled “offensive” by some on the call when he mentioned — and denounced — the deadly violence racists committed against black people that he witnessed during his upbringing in Indiana.
The ensuing firestorm was unwarranted on the face of it even then, but an unearthed document suggests that it was all a shocking setup from Laundry Service — the very company hired to prevent such a scandal.
In a shocking claim that so far has only been picked up by trade publications like Ad Age and PR Newswire, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky unsealed an Amended Complaint that lays out exactly how the public relations firm conspired to “bury the founder” over a $6 million payment dispute.
The complaint alleges that Laundry Service invited Schnatter to the now-infamous conference call under the pretense that it was about a new marketing strategy.
Instead, the organization reportedly steered the conversation to Schnatter’s “views on race” and recorded the call without his consent.
When Laundry Service was fired shortly thereafter and Papa John’s refused to pay the sum, Casey Wasserman, CEO of the marketing firm’s parent company Wasserman Media Group, allegedly made good on his earlier promise to “bury the founder.”
The group “leaked to Forbes magazine excerpts of their May 22, 2018, call with Mr. Schnatter,” and maliciously used his words out of context to give the “impression that Mr. Schnatter had communicated something opposite to what he said,” according to the court document.
In fact, what Schnatter reportedly said after he used the racial slur left no question about his true intent.
“I’m like, I never used that word,” Schnatter said in an audio recording from the May 2018 call, according to the complaint. “And they get away with it. And we used the word ‘debacle’ and we get framed in the same genre.”
The complaint goes on to mention a whistleblower former employee at Laundry Service who had a recording of the call and picked up what happened once Schnatter hung up.
Apparently Jason Stein, Laundry Service CEO at the time, “began to discuss how Mr. Schnatter’s statements on the call could be used against him to damage his image so ‘he gets f***ing sent out to pasture on this s***” (in Stein’s words),” the complaint reads.
“The plan, according to the recorded conversation, was to arrange for Mr. Schnatter to have an hour-long live interview with a hostile media personality and prompt Mr. Schnatter to make damaging statements which need ‘to be viral.'”
The employee who had the recording brought it to human resources over concerns that the company was plotting against Schnatter but was reportedly told to delete it.
This makes it clear there was intent to twist Schnatter’s words to use against him, which gives lie to the whole media narrative weaponized against him.
Even prior to this recent complaint being reportedly unsealed, an ex-FBI director Louis Freeh had already concluded Schnatter “neither intended nor can reasonably be interpreted to reflect any racial bias, prejudice, or disrespect for African Americans or people of color” in a December report.
This is an explosive charge, but Schnatter’s fate might have been equally sealed by two unnamed board members.
Appearing on Newsmax on Tuesday, Schnatter railed against the media’s treatment of his remarks and blamed two Papa John’s board members who were complicit in the plot to get him ousted for their own financial gain.
“They got the rest of the board to go along with it,” Schnatter told hosts Heather Childers and Bob Sellers. “I had a weak board that violated Delaware law, they didn’t follow due process, they didn’t do an investigation.”
Schnatter said if there had been an investigation similar to what Freeh had, it would have also concluded that what he said was “completely anti-racist, and the follow-up comments by Laundry Service completely exonerate me and indict them in that they said, ‘Hey, we set the guy up. We were out to hurt him.'”
Papa John’s Founder John Schantter speaks out against cancel culture and the consequences of an increased minimum wage. @HeatherChilders @BobSellersTV https://t.co/VlT7z8v2lm pic.twitter.com/jwv0PYVEm0
— Newsmax (@newsmax) March 2, 2021
Schnatter suffered damage to his reputation and his business allegedly because there were those out to get him — and all of this was made possible by the complicit media hungry to hang the charge of racism on a right-leaning former CEO.
None of this would have worked without the media, and they would have no power without the race peddlers who benefit from creating a world where high-profile white people are secretly racist.
If this is indeed true, it means that Schnatter was a victim of cancel culture and targeted for his outspoken conservative viewpoints — and if they can do it to him, they can do it to anybody.
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