The Tennessean newspaper and Gannett, its parent company, fired an advertising manager on Monday, a day after the newspaper published a full-page ad from a biblical prophecy group claiming “Islam” would detonate a bomb in Nashville.
The advertisement that appeared in Tennessee’s largest newspaper 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.
It had warned Nashville residents about an impending attack “so that they may be able to make a decision intelligently”.
The manager who was fired “agreed to proceed with the ad without fully reviewing the content” after it had been flagged by a sales executive, Kathy Jack-Romero, the president of local sales for Gannett, said in a Tennessean article published on Monday.
An internal investigation found that three advertising staff members had the opportunity to review the ad before it published, she said, adding that “the sales and design teams did not fully read the context of the ad content in its entirety and subsequently approved it.”
“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 advertisement violated the newspaper’s own editorial standards banning hate speech.
In a statement, Council on Islamic-American Relations’ spokesman Ibrahim Hooper said that while 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.”