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NYT Take on Balenciaga Scandal Is About As Shameful As You'd Expect

AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File

Last month, Balenciaga became a news trend for a campaign involving toddler-age children clutching teddy bears who appeared dressed in bondage gear. There were also oddly placed documents based on court cases to do with child pornography, which resulted in a lawsuit against the ad's producers brought forth by Balenciaga, though that was dropped almost as soon as it was filed. The fashion company has tried to wash its hands of the matter, with the short-term lawsuit, as well as non-apologies and deleting photos of the ad. They also had already gotten rid of their Twitter account. To make matters worse, though, is that others are making excuses on their behalf, especially when it comes to The New York Times.


An article for the news outlet from last Monday currently bears the headline of "When High Fashion and QAnon Collide," though a Google search of the article presents it as "What to Know About Balenciaga's Campaign Controversy." The sub headline is as ridiculous as well, reading "Two new Balenciaga campaigns ignited a firestorm that traveled from the internet to Fox News, fueled by allegations that the brand condoned child exploitation."

It took three writers to put this together, including Elizabeth Paton, Vanessa Friedman and

The article begins by pointing out that the outrage seems to be purposeful, especially after Demna became artistic director in 2015, whom as Sarah highlighted on Saturday, still gets to keep his job. More non-apologies have followed, including from Demna. Although the article was first published last Monday, it was updated on Friday to reflect Demna's position and so-called apology. 

The subheadline about Fox News is reiterated shortly into the article, with added emphasis:

Now, however, the release of two new campaigns by Balenciaga, which is owned by Kering, the French luxury conglomerate that also owns brands like Gucci and Saint Laurent, has taken the public opprobrium to a new level. One campaign featured photos of children clutching handbags that look like teddy bears in bondage gear. Another campaign featured photos that include paperwork about child pornography laws. Together, they ignited a firestorm that traveled from the internet to Fox News, fueled by allegations that Balenciaga condoned child exploitation. The controversy has become one of the most explicit collisions of internet culture, politics, fashion and conspiracy theories to date.


Some critiques have included images from both campaigns in a way that suggests they are one and the same. One Twitter userwho shared photos from the two shoots wrote, “the brand ‘Balenciaga’ just did a uh ….. interesting … photo shoot for their new products recently which included a very purposely poorly hidden court document about ‘virtual child porn.’ normal stuff.” That tweet, among other posts, prompted accusations that Balenciaga was promoting a “child pornography campaign” and glamorizing violence against children.


As the article progresses, it appears to delve more into seeking to explain away the controversy. 

In fact, one subheader reads that "The internet is full of trolls. Why did this controversy take off?" Under that heading the article reads as follows:

As online criticism of the campaigns spread, the story was picked up across right-leaning media outlets, including The New York Post and the prime time Fox News show “Tucker Carlson Tonight.” The show has helped to publicize and mainstream QAnon, the internet conspiracy theory that “a group of Satan-worshiping elites who run a child sex ring are trying to control our politics and media.”

“Here you have a major international retail brand promoting kiddie porn and sex with children,” Mr. Carlson told viewers on Nov. 22, “and not promoting it subtly but right out in the open.”

In a move that is as lazy as infuriating, the writers do nothing to draw any further connection to what QAnon has to do with the understandable outrage from the ad campaign. They just are looking to go after Carlson over QAnon, again, as so many other leftist outlets have done. 

It's also worth reminding that The New York Times is responsible for one of the most ridiculous hit pieces against Carlson that there is, from late April. 

Despite being mentioned in the headline and the subheadline, "QAnon" is only mentioned one other time in the lengthy article, in the excerpt above.


From there, the article further seeks to explain away the controversy by focusing on the so-called apologies from the company as well as Kim Kardashian, which, as Leah highlighted last week, was thoroughly criticized.

"The social media ire has moved beyond the brand to envelop swaths of the global fashion industry — including the celebrities who are often its billboards — for not being more openly critical of Balenciaga’s provocative marketing strategy," the article also reads towards the end.

One of the article's co-authors, Elizabeth Paton, shared the piece over Twitter last week. She was rewarded with a ratio of close to 800 replies calling her out, as well as 154 of her 180 retweets being quoted retweets similarly calling her out. Last Friday, her tweet made it to third on the list of tweets called out by The List, and rightfully so with a tone-deaf promotion like that. 

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