Tennessean Apologizes For Running ‘Horrific’ Full-Page Anti-Muslim Ad From Christian Group
The Tennessean apologized for running an insane, full-page anti-Muslim ad from a Christian group that baselessly claimed “Islam is going to detonate a nuclear device in Nashville, Tennessee.” The paper announced Sunday it will conduct an investigation into how the ad made print.
This morning, the Nashville @Tennessean — the largest newspaper in the state — published a full-page ad from a far-right client warning “Islam is going to detonate a nuclear device in Nashville, Tennessee.” It’s accompanied by photos of Donald Trump and Pope Francis. pic.twitter.com/9vvUbteSIh
— Alex Martin Smith (@asmiff) June 21, 2020
The ad, printed in the Sunday edition of The Tennessean, claimed Muslims will “strike the US again” on July 18, 2020, information allegedly gleaned from biblical prophets. It featured an illustration of President Donald Trump and Pope Francis with an American flag behind them. The group also called Trump “the final president of the USA.”
After the ad went viral online, Tennessean writers and editors spoke out about the paper’s decision to run it. Karen Grigsby, who has worked at the paper for 22 years, said a lack of staffing and an abundance of work could be to blame.
“I don’t know if a copy desk would have caught it and stopped it before publication,” she wrote on Twitter. “But I guess we’ll never know.”
I’ve wanted to scream that it wasn’t my mistake. I’ve wanted to explain the lack of staffing and the abundance of work, but I’ve held my tongue. It’s not my place. But I can’t hold my tongue about the ad that ran in today’s paper. It’s a disgrace.
— Karen Grigsby (@KarenGrigsby) June 21, 2020
Several nonprofits also condemned the publication, including Muslim Matters, which called the ad a “dangerous incitement against Muslims to divert attention from America’s deep sociological and political problems.”
This is not the onion. It is dangerous incitement against Muslims to divert attention from America’s deep sociological and political problems.
— MuslimMatters (@MuslimMatters) June 21, 2020
In a story run Sunday night by the paper, The Tennessean denounced the publication of the ad and said it would be removed for later editions because it “clearly forbid hate speech.”
“Two ads ran this week in the Tennessean that clearly violate our advertising standards,” said Kevin Gentzel, President of Marketing Solutions and Chief Revenue Officer for Gannett, which owns the paper. “We strongly condemn the message and apologize to our readers. We are immediately investigating to determine how this could have happened.”
“Clearly there was a breakdown in the normal processes, which call for careful scrutiny of our advertising content,” Michael A. Anastasi, vice president and editor of The Tennessean, also said in the statement.
“The ad is horrific and is utterly indefensible in all circumstances. It is wrong, period, and should have never been published. It has hurt members of our community and our own employees and that saddens me beyond belief. It is inconsistent with everything The Tennessean as an institution stands and has stood for and with the journalism we have produced.”
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