Executives at a newspaper in Nashville, Tennessee, apologized Sunday for publishing what a top editor called a “horrific” full-page advertisement that said “Islam” was going to detonate a nuclear device in the city next month.
The ad, which was published in the Tennessean and also said that President Donald Trump “typified many biblical leaders,” was from a religious group the newspaper described in a non-bylined story as “fringe.”
Kevin Gentzel, the chief revenue officer at Gannett, which owns the Tennessean, said the company was launching an investigation to determine how the ad was published.
“We strongly condemn the message and apologize to our readers,” he tweeted.
The editor of the paper, Michael Anastasi, was quoted in the Tennessean saying there had “clearly” been a breakdown in how the newspaper’s ads are scrutinized.
“The ad is horrific and is utterly indefensible in all circumstances,” he said, according to the paper. “It is wrong, period, and should have never been published.”
The story added that the advertisement had been pulled from future editions.
Journalists and advocacy groups condemned the ad. A Tennessean statehouse reporter on furlough said that she was “sick” after seeing messages from readers canceling their subscriptions.
“I’m frustrated I can’t find out more due to furlough,” the reporter, Natalie Ellison, tweeted. She reminded readers that she “and other @Tennessean reporters have consistently identified and written about local anti-Islam efforts.”
The Council on American-Islamic Relations offered to help the newspaper update its training policies, while Yasmine Taeb, a lawyer with the Democratic advocacy group Demand Progress, said the newspaper needed to better understand how such an ad could run in a state where there are already a significant number of hate crimes.
Tennessee law enforcement agencies reported 170 incidents in the state in 2018, the 11th highest in the country, according to the FBI.
“Publishing an appalling and hateful ad will only cause further hatred and incite violence against Muslims,” Taeb said.