Tennessee Newspaper Apologizes for ‘Utterly Indefensible’ Anti-Muslim Ad

Like most other news organizations, The Tennessean’s sales team and newsroom operate independently.

Ryan Kedzierski, vice president of sales for Middle Tennessee, said, “We are extremely apologetic to the community that the advertisement was able to get through and we are reviewing internally why and how this occurred and we will be taking actions immediately to correct.”

Gannett, which owns the paper, referred a request for comment to the newspaper’s coverage.

Jeff Pippenger, who identified himself as the speaker of the Ministry of Future for America, said the newspaper owed the group a full refund. He could not say how much the ad cost.

“I stand by all the content in the ad and the content in the website,” he said. “It seems to me the criticism is more aimed at the editorial staff at the newspaper, and the criticism about my religious convictions is simply what happens when you let your religious convictions out into the public arena.”

Ibrahim Hooper, communications director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said the ad was “unfortunate” but “symptomatic of the overall rise of Islamophobia, racism and white supremacy.”

Mr. Hooper said his group would offer training to The Tennessean’s staff on racism and Islamophobia, and that he hoped the paper would institute “real policy changes” to make sure the episode was not repeated.

While the ad was bizarre and likely to be interpreted by readers as such, Mr. Hooper said a minority of people could believe the false claims about Muslims.

Kathleen Bartzen Culver, chair of journalism ethics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said that newspaper publishers have an obligation in advertising, not just in news, to “pursue truth” and avoid publishing falsehoods or inflammatory statements.

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