The Tennessean, a statewide newspaper based in Nashville, apologized and opened an investigation into how an ad claiming that “Islam” was going to “detonate a nuclear device in Nashville” was ever published.
The ad, which took up a full page when published Sunday, featured President Donald Trump and Pope Francis in front of a violent, destructive background that showed multiple burning American flags. A group called Ministry of Future for America, whose self-stated goal is “to proclaim the final warning message of the Bible,” according to its website, was credited with creating the ad.
The ad was an eight-paragraph essay that took up the length of the page. In addition to its false warnings about a nuclear attack, the ad mentioned Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Democratic Party and the Sept. 11 attacks. It also claimed that Trump’s presidency was part of a prophecy, and warned of “another civil war,” according to The New York Times.
Michael Anastasi, The Tennessean’s editor and vice president, said that “clearly there was a breakdown in the normal processes, which call for the scrutiny of our advertising content” when asked about the ad’s publication.
“The ad is horrific and is utterly indefensible in all circumstances. It is wrong, period, and should have never been published,” he said.
Other employees at the paper, which is owned by Gannett, also expressed their alarm over the ad’s publication.
Eric Bacharach, a sports writer for the paper, called the ad’s publication “severely irresponsible.”
“I’ve got no idea how something like this gets approved – I have no inkling into the advertising process – but it’s absolutely unacceptable,” he said in a tweet.
Ryan Kedzierski, the paper’s vice president of sales for middle Tennessee, echoed Bachrach’s statement as well.
“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,” he said.
Jeff Pippenger, the head of Ministry of Future for America, defended the content of his ad and its publication Sunday.
“I stand by all the content in the ad and the content in the website,” he said, The New York Times reported. “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.”
He continued, saying that his group was owed a full refund by the paper, despite its falsehoods and racist content.