Papa John Schnatter did an interview on Friday with Terry Meiners of NewsRadio 840 WHAS, reflecting upon his extremely bad and dumb week and the bizarre and offensive comments that got him into so much trouble. I suggest listening to the whole thing. Meiners is direct and reasonably tough, and calls Schattner on some of his less credible statements, but mostly you will be listening to appreciate the absurdity of Schnatter’s defense, and his absolute inability to speak publicly without revealing himself to be a wild jackass.
Placed prominently in the PR playbook for crisis management is the good old standby My Comments Were Taken Out Of Context. In extremely rare cases, this move is deployed because a person’s comments were in fact taken out of context. Most of the time it means I do not think of myself as a jerk, and would prefer to not be thought of as a jerk by the public. It’s useful not because anyone believes it, but because you can’t acknowledge having said something dumb without offering some explanation, and I didn’t mean it the way it was received beats the hell out of yes, I was racist, but only for those ten seconds of my entire life.
Absolutely nowhere in this PR playbook will you find I, A White Person, Used The N-Word In Conversation Not Because I Am Racist, But Specifically Because I Am Not Racist! But here we are:
“Believe it or not, Terry, the agency was promoting that vocabulary, and that [word]. And I made it real clear, listen, we’re not gonna go there, we’re not gonna talk about this. And they pushed me and it upset me, and I just said ‘listen, other people have used that word. I don’t, and will not use that word and people at Papa John’s don’t use that.’ And that was the comment. But they actually wanted to get into that vocabulary, and I said absolutely not.
The point is, you can’t use that vocabulary, you can’t use that word, and we will not, and I’m not going to, and I have not.”
Just to be perfectly clear, he is saying that he, John Schnatter, used the n-word, aloud, in conversation, to make the point that he, John Schnatter, would never condone the use of the n-word, aloud, in conversation. And it was the people who complained about his use of the n-word, aloud, in conversation, who were the actual racists.
“I don’t think they were near as sensitive to this as I was, and that’s why I had to [unintelligible] this subject and say you know we’re not gonna do anything that even gets near this.”
Confronted with a concise distillation of the point he seems to be making—that the agency tricked him into using the n-word—Schnatter suggests that the relationship between Papa John’s and the agency was severed not because they had a problem with him using the n-word, but because they tricked him into using the n-word. Confronted moments later with the reasonable question of why he couldn’t use “n-word” instead of uttering the actual word itself, Schnatter reveals a major loophole in his By God I Will Not Use The N-Word In Conversation stance:
“Well I was just talking the way that the Colonel talks.”
Ah ha. It is not okay to talk like a racist, unless you are talking the way a racist talks. Good rule. When the topic turned to the fallout from this disaster, Schnatter managed to loop his way back around to his last controversy, when he opened his big fat mouth about NFL players protesting during pregame national anthem ceremonies, but offered a new twist:
“The NFL also said they got rid of us, but we got rid of them...We were very glad to get out of the NFL relationship, because we still get to sponsor some players and we still get to sponsor some teams and we still get to do business with the community. But we don’t want to do business with Roger Goodell, period. I don’t want to do business with Roger Goodell, and we’ve had enough success where we get to pick who we do business with. Roger Goodell runs the NFL and we made a decision to get a divorce, and we did.”
Hard as this explanation may be to believe, it is fun to imagine Papa John’s dumping their single most prominent sponsorship deal, in the midst of an obnoxious Papa John-centric sub-scandal, because Papa John just hates Roger Goodell that damn much.
Okay, it is now time for Schnatter to go away forever. Clearly he is incapable of saying words without saying the wrong words.