Tennessee’s largest newspaper has announced an investigation into its own misconduct after it published an anti-Muslim advertisement this weekend warning that “Islam” would soon detonate a nuclear bomb over Nashville.
The advertisement that appeared in The Tennessean on Sunday also claimed that Donald Trump was “the final president of the USA”, illustrated with a picture of the US president and Pope Francis.
Fringe Christian association Future for America paid for the advert, which warned about an “Islamic” nuclear attack on Nashville.
The paper admitted that another advert with similar claims, but which did not mention Islam, had been published on 17 June.
It had warned Nashville residents about an impending attack “so that they may be able to make a decision intelligently”.
“Clearly there was a breakdown in the normal processes, which call for careful scrutiny of our advertising content,” said the paper’s vice-president and editor Michael Anastasi on Sunday night.
“The ad is horrific and is utterly indefensible in all circumstances. It is wrong, period, and should have never been published,” said Mr Anastasi.
“It has hurt members of our community and our own employees and that saddens me beyond belief,” he added. “It is inconsistent with everything the Tennessean as an institution stands and has stood for.”
The Tennessean said that the advert violated the newspaper’s own editorial standards banning hate speech.
Sales executives, who work separately from the paper’s editorial team, have since pulled the same advert from future editions.
In a statement, Council on Islamic-American Relations’ spokesman Ibrahim Hooper said that whilst the paper’s actions and an investigation were welcomed, “we would urge The Tennessean to also implement updated policies and staff training to ensure that this type of hate incident does not occur in the future. CAIR is willing to offer that training.”
It is not known how much Future for America paid for the two advertisements.
Jeff Pippenger, a ‘speaker’ of the Ministry of Future for America, told The New York Times the group expected a full refund and that, “I stand by all the content in the ad.”