John “Papa John” Schnatter, the disgraced former face and eponymous Papa of Papa John’s, is engaged in a lawsuit with marketing firm Laundry Service, the public relations types who recorded Papa John using the N-word and making other ugly comments during a sensitivity training conference call in May 2018. It is Papa’s position that Laundry Service ambushed him with a conversation about racism—a topic he is evidently incapable of discussing without using literal racist slurs unless he has been given a detailed agenda in advance—and that after the meeting Laundry Service tried to set Papa John up for a disastrous, humiliating media appearance. This week Papa went public with what he sees as explosive evidence, via an update on his dipshit little personal website: audio recordings that show, among other things, Laundry Service personnel reacting in disbelief and disgust to Papa John’s racist behavior.
Two audio recordings are included in the post. The longer of the two is a heavily edited 12-minute sequence, and is worth your attention only for the moment, at around the 7:30 mark, where Papa John finally utters the N-word:
“I got to tell you, heaven forbid—this company, if they’re not gonna use me at all, after I’ve looked at this research, I mean I’m just not seeing how you’re not going to tell the Papa John story. What bothers me is Colonel Sanders called blacks ‘niggers.’ I’m like, I’ve never used that word, and they get away with it. And yet we use the word ‘debacle’ and we get framed in the same genre. It’s crazy. The whole thing’s crazy.”John “Papa John” Schnatter
It’s hard not to form the opinion that Papa John is resentful that other people get to be more racist than him, as if he wishes he’d gotten more bang for his controversy buck. The shorter recording, and perhaps the more damning one for Laundry Service, is the aftermath of the sensitivity training, when those who’d been on the call with Papa John share their unfiltered reactions to the session:
This recording does seem to show Laundry Service representatives talking hopefully of setting Papa John up to show his ass in subsequent media appearances, although their suggested interviewers—fawning sycophant Darren Rovell and other fawning sycophant Bill Simmons—reveal some hilarious flaws in their view of the media landscape. Maybe this represents the violation of contractual obligations that Papa John alleges in his lawsuit, and maybe this will get Laundry Service and their parent company, Wasserman Media Group, in big trouble. Certainly it seems like a bad idea to record a conversation wherein one of your representatives says “I hope he gets fuckin’ sent out to pasture” about a client. Whatever. Public relations firms can eat my butt.
But it is also very clearly a group of people who are extremely disgusted by the person they’ve just dealt with, who believe he is unambiguously a racist, and who are ready to utterly torpedo a lucrative professional relationship if it means some comeuppance. This is all very funny when taken together with a press release issued by Papa John Tuesday afternoon, where he suggests that audio of people recoiling disgustedly from his evident racism, along with audio of him griping that he can’t get away with what Colonel Sanders got away with, shows that he is in fact a hero of anti-racism:
“It’s a major relief to finally have more facts that reveal the truth of what really happened,” Schnatter said in a statement. “Now the full recording is public, and people have the full picture. Everyone can hear for themselves how I was raised to totally reject racism.”PR Newswire
For sure, man. It’s extremely brazen to publish evidence of one’s racism as evidence of a total rejection of racism, but it may help in the lawsuit, and clearly that’s what matters to Papa John’s out-of-work ass. For a guy who made his fortune saying “better ingredients” while pointing at butter-smothered grade-F slop strewn across a pizza crust, it’s a familiar gambit.