big trouble!

How Vanity Fair Protected Its Trump Grill Reviewer From Online Attacks

No stars. Photo: Shanna Ravindra

After Vanity Fair published a restaurant review as unambiguously titled as “Trump Grill Could Be the Worst Restaurant in America,” it couldn’t have been too surprising when Donald Trump tweeted that the magazine was “way down, big trouble, dead!” (The magazine has also apparently picked up 13,000 new subscribers since the review ran.) Even still, political reporter Tina Nguyen, who wrote the piece, tells Columbia Journalism Review she expected the story to get “some” pickup, but not “the attention of the man who is going to be the most powerful person in the world.” That attention (“Way down, big trouble, dead!”) brought her a good amount of plaudits from the industry, but also a very real fear of what Trump’s supporters might try to do in the wake of the takedown.

Per CJR’s interview:

“Rationally, I was worried I would be doxxed,” [Nguyen] says, referring to the practice of publishing people’s private information with malicious intent. Trump supporters have already doxxed dozens of journalists they viewed as anti-Trump.

Luckily, Vanity Fair publisher Condé Nast was ready:

In a set of actions that other media outlets would be wise to study, the Vanity Fair public relations team quickly contacted Nguyen. “They kept an eye out for anyone who tried to release my address or my phone number or even tried to call me through the Condé [Nast] switchboard,” she says. “They were on top of their game, so big credit to them.”

Nguyen also credits Vanity Fair for letting her go after Trump, and for supporting the review even after “a very scary man tweeted his displeasure toward it” and says the attention is “very flattering, and I still don’t quite know how to process it.” Meanwhile, editor Graydon Carter — a proud restaurateur himself, and known Trump detractor — appears to have been pleased with the whole thing. The magazine’s homepage was emblazoned with a banner proclaiming itself “THE ‘WAY DOWN, BIG TROUBLE, DEAD!’ MAGAZINE TRUMP DOESN’T WANT YOU TO READ” during the controversy.

How Vanity Fair Protected Its Trump Grill Reviewer