The Morton’s backlash

I expressed admiration for Morton’s statement condemning the harassment of Justice Kavanaugh at the steakhouse chain’s downtown D.C. restaurant on Wednesday evening. Politico Playbook had sought and published Morton’s statement (quoted in the linked post) in its account of the events. Morton’s must of course be punished for speaking up on behalf of its customers (and its business).

I observed that the Playbookers seemed to think the whole thing was a big joke. A laughing matter. Something to have a little fun with.

Politico’s hilarity continues with the Playbook update this morning (links and bolding omitted):

MORTON’S MISTAKE — When a corporation is getting grilled on social media, there’s a lot at stake. The best course is often to say nothing, lest you butcher the response. Issuing a statement can often just inflame things because, let’s be honest, press releases are a medium rarely well done. Morton’s The Steakhouse learned that the hard way this week when it steered right into the middle of the culture wars.

After abortion-rights protesters showed up in front of the Morton’s in downtown D.C. on Wednesday night to demonstrate while Justice BRETT KAVANAUGH dined inside, the company issued a statement to POLITICO’s Daniel Lippman aggressively defending the justice’s “right … to eat dinner,” as we wrote about in Friday’s Playbook.

The response set all sides alight. The left mocked the idea that Kavanaugh should be shielded from protesters while out in public. “Poor guy,” tweeted Rep. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-N.Y.). “He left before his soufflé because he decided half the country should risk death if they have an ectopic pregnancy within the wrong state lines. It’s all very unfair to him. The least they could do is let him eat cake.”

“Brett Kavanaugh’s Right to Dine Shall Not Be Infringed,” Esquire’s Jack Holmes teased. The New Republic’s Matt Ford examined medieval “sumptuary laws” that regulated private luxuries and concluded, “There Is No Constitutional Right to Eat Dinner.”

Others flooded OpenTable with fake reservations. At one location, the fake diners included “Arnold Benedict,” “Abortion Rights” and “First Amendment,” according to an Instagram story one employee posted. At another Morton’s, reservations that were removed Friday night included “Dick Hertz,” “Amy Coney,” “Neil Gor,” “Kava Naugh,” “Roe Wade,” “Jane Doe” and “Pro Choice,” according to a reservation list Lippman obtained.

The right sided with the steakhouse chain’s view that dinner should be off limits to demonstrations. At the White House, Fox News’ PETER DOOCY spent almost three-and-a-half minutes asking press secretary KARINE JEAN-PIERRE what the White House thought of the incident, including whether justices had “a right to privacy.”

Morton’s, which is owned by TILMAN FERTITTA, the billionaire owner of the Houston Rockets whom Trump has called “a friend,” moved to put out the fire. The company appears to have blocked users from being able to comment on Morton’s tweets, and the Morton’s Yelp page has temporarily restricted new reviews.

“Currently we are experiencing a massive wave (trending at #2 on social media now) of negative response to our comments yesterday as well as being bombarded at the local level with phone calls and fake reservations on Open Table,” SCOTT CRAIN, SVP and COO of Morton’s, wrote to managers in an email obtained by Lippman.

“[T]here is a good chance that your restaurant will also potentially have some people reaching out for comment and/or making (bogus) reservations over the next few days. As I stated yesterday, our comment is always ‘No Comment.’ We don’t respond, we don’t retweet, we don’t post on Instagram or Facebook, we don’t do anything. Please remind your teams (especially the hourly employees) of this policy,” he added. “Again, we do NOT insert our political beliefs at any time – not with an employee, not with a fellow manager, and most certainly NOT with a guest.”

When Crain was asked for additional comment, he accidentally sent a screenshot of Lippman’s text back to Lippman and then called him but immediately hung up.

These people and their supporters — you know who I mean — are sick.

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