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Photo: Chesnot/Getty Images

Snapchat's head of diversity apologized to employees Saturday for a widely criticized Juneteenth filter that encouraged people to "smile and break the chains." However, in the same note, the executive insisted that it was white employees who raised concerns and black employees who suggested it was fine.

Between the lines: While the letter offers some clarity about the process that led to the filter's release, it's not clear that it makes the company look much better.

What they're saying: "For the record, and the avoidance of all doubt: the two Snap team members who on separate occasions specifically questioned if the 'smile' trigger was appropriate for Juneteenth were two white team members," VP of diversity and inclusion Oona King said in an email to employees seen by Axios.

  • "The Snap team members who suggested the smile trigger to begin with, and said it was acceptable to use, were black Snap team members, and/or members of my team."

Our thought bubble: Snap clearly wants the world to know that this blunder was not a matter of an all-white team stumbling into a race-politics gaffe, but rather the failure of a process that involved a racially diverse set of employees. Yet it's not the makeup of Snap's team that's at issue — it's the content the company put before the public.

  • The company faced similar backlash over a "4/20" Bob Marley filter that many perceived as akin to digital blackface.

Go deeper

DOJ pressed to enforce Al Jazeera foreign agent ruling

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The Justice Department is being pressed to enforce its own demand that the U.S. arm of Qatari broadcaster Al Jazeera register as a foreign agent.

Why it matters: The launch of Al Jazeera's new right-of-center U.S. media venture, Rightly, has refocused attention on the media company's alleged links to Doha, and DOJ's efforts to crack down on media outlets viewed as foreign interest mouthpieces.

Poll: Immigration is America's most-polarizing issue

Data: The American Aspirations Index/Populace; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

Immigration was found to be the most polarizing issue in America based on new polling from Populace.

Why it matters: Americans have surprisingly similar priorities for the U.S., but immigration stands out as one of the few issues with clear partisan differences. It underscores the challenge for advocates and lawmakers hoping to pass immigration reform in the coming weeks amid narrow margins in Congress.

Lawmakers hide behind AG's investigation as Cuomo lingers

A billboard outside Albany, N.Y. Photo: Matthew Cavanaugh/Getty Images

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is politically wounded but not yet dead, several state lawmakers tell Axios.

The state of play: Most are holding their fire and punting to state Attorney General Letitia James' investigation into sexual harassment allegations. They expect the inquiry to be credible and thorough — and buy Cuomo badly needed breathing room.