The Union runs ad “Is Your President a Muslim?”while columnist blames media for “urging women to hate Trump”

You can’t make this stuff up! Our little “community” newspaper, The Union, is running an ad on page A10 this morning titled “Is Your President a Muslim”? I swear. On the back of the front section. It is from none other than Frank Pinney, who submitted a “Global Warming Hoax” ad last November — that The Union dutifully ran (after collecting some money from Frank).

Like all newspapers, The Union does not have to accept a paid ad. It is an issue of judgment. As one reader wrote about Pinney’s ad last year: ” “Does The Union blindly accept anything, no matter how untrue or derogatory, as long as it is a paid ad?” I guess it does.

Here’s an excerpt from “Is Your President a Muslim”: “Obama appears Muslim in all his actions but claimed just to practice a weird kind of Christianity with Reverend Wright. However, if he carried an ID card stating he was an active radical Muslim terrorist, tell me which of his actions over these 8 years would be any different or any worse for America?”

Then there’s the “regular” in The Union, Norm Sauer, a piece of political work in his own right. Here’s an excerpt from Norm’s column: “We need a warrior, a ruthless fighter, and a patriot…We have these qualities in Donald J. Trump … While the propaganda mainstream media has incessantly urged women to hate Mr. Trump, many nevertheless still realize this presidential election is not about social justice but rather saving our exceptionally great country, its Constitution and the Bill of Rights.”

Yes he wrote that. So let me get this straight: According to Sauer, Trump makes shocking and vulgar statements about women here (“Donald Trump on getting women? Grab them by the p****) and here (“Donald Trump’s ‘blood’ comment about Megyn Kelly draws outrage)”, yet it is the media that is “incessantly urging women to hate Mr. Trump (not his own actions). Sauer comes across as a bonafide idiot!

And The Union published it. Just as it published a paid political ad titled “Is Your President a Muslim”? to make a buck. How’s that for “community” journalism? This blog will never, ever, run out of material! Good going Publisher Don Rogers and Editor Brian Hamilton!


Author: jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for years, was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News, and was Editor of The Union, a 145-year-old newspaper in Grass Valley. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing and trout fishing.

39 thoughts on “The Union runs ad “Is Your President a Muslim?”while columnist blames media for “urging women to hate Trump””

  1. “Not only a Muslim born in Iran….” “Obama is not the President.”

    Besides this ad being completely delusional it is beyond my belief that a newspaper publisher would accept this ad. Publishing this ad is incredible bad judgement.

    I’m sure the circle of stupid, being wholly ignorant of the meaning of the Constitution much as idiots like Norm claim to champion it, will cry that you are seeking to censor a free press or free speech, Jeff.

    But here is the operative language from Miami Herald v. Tornillo:

    ““A newspaper is more than a passive receptacle or conduit for news, comment, and advertising. The choice of material to go into a newspaper, and the decisions made as to limitations on the size and content of the paper, and treatment of public issues and public officials — whether fair or unfair — constitute the exercise of editorial control and judgment.”

    Miami Herald Pub. Co. v. Tornillo, 418 U.S. 241, 256, 94 S. Ct. 2831, 2838-39, 41 L. Ed. 2d 730 (1974).

    1. The ad referred to Valery Jarrett who was born in Iran. How many people read the ads in the Union compared to the expensive ones they have to see and hear when they’re watching television?

      1. Valerie Jarrett was born in Shiraz Iran to AMERICAN parents; her father, James Bowman was a physician and her mother Barbara Bowman was an early childhood education specialist. Both were graduates of the University of Chicago. Neither of her parents are Iranian, both are descendants of African-American slaves.

  2. Miami Herald v. Tornillo is a famous media law case and discussed at good journalism schools. BTW, the Supreme Court decision was 9-0. Thanks for bringing it up.

  3. i have an idea, as long as the union takes any paid advertisement that is. a back page ad with the heading: community thoughts on the union. then we collect $1 each from people who want to chime in. $1 gives you one word (probably enough), but if someone wants to say more, it’s $1 per word.

  4. More importantly, what kind of advertising does this for our community. If you’re visiting and you want to check out the pulse of a community, you might pick up the local paper. I know I do.

    What if those visitors are visiting to bring business?

    Would our local Chambers of Commerce publish this? Does our local business community accept this? When is the business community going to hold The Union accountable. Apparently The Union isn’t.

    As a public educator, how can I have any faith in this publication that blatantly displays such a disregard for any type of intellect.

    1. You can’t have any faith. That’s the point. And that’s why your children (along with others of educated parents) have chosen to be educated and live elsewhere. It’s just another one of the unintended consequences of this lack of leadership. It drains the community of intellect.

  5. Reading the rants spewed from Norm Saur and Frank Pinney made me think that the local homeless problem doesn’t seem that bad. We can figure out what homeless people need, many suffer addictions and mental illness and need shelter and food. Saure and Pinney are suffering from something and appear as incapacitated as some of the homeless who walk around screaming up at the sky, but I have no idea what they want.

  6. This last May, our son flew up from San Diego to attend a wedding. On driving him back to the airport to go back, he asked me, and I quote, “Why are the oldies always trying to drag us down? (meaning Nevada County).

    Attracting Millennials? No chance!

  7. We had friends of 40+ years visiting with us for the President’s Day Parade. We had the champagne brunch on the upper deck of the National Hotel. Our friends got depressed when the Trump contingent walked by.

  8. These people, and the paper is disgrace. Fortunately for them they have no shame and no self awareness, not to mention intelligence. As Trump says…sad, losers. And the real crime is they don’t give a s**t, about anyone. They represent the essence of the GOP. And they are only speaking to the morons in our community. I know many of the people working for them don’t actually support their BS. Maybe it’s time for them to think about what’s important, rather then sell their souls for a paycheck from these greaseballs. I’m sure Auburn what value them much more.

  9. Thanks to everyone who posted above. I’ve put up with the outrageous, mind numbing, patriot-claiming imbeciles that have frequented The Union’s editorial pages as well as the two back page ads mentioned above that strain to the breaking point the tolerance for free speech. Thank you, Jeff, for affirming that a newspaper has must accept responsibility for what it prints. The hate-filled, fact-denying vomit that tries to pass for intelligent thought should be relegated to the web pages of the local GOP newsletters. Sadly the Republican party has sold its soul to various reactionary hate media/groups in order to gain the support they can’t get from thoughtful Republicans. The spineless Republican leadership of Ryan and McConnell has done great damage to our democracy which will go down in history as the second Civil War, hopefully without the gunfire that whining reactionaries who prefer to destroy our democracy that gracefully accept defeat and rejection. Monday I will call The Union and cancel my subscription. I want Don Rogers to feel the pain of his decision to give space to such trash.

  10. Precisely on queue several infamous local bloggers and commentators are spinning the paid Pinney advertisement as a “free speech” issue. The Pinney ad is not a a free speech issue. Both Jeff and I made it abundantly clear that the right of a newspaper to print advertising, or for that matter refuse to print submitted advertising, is well within their free speech rights and neither of us object to that.

    Instead what it demonstrates is incredibly bad judgement on the part of The Unions and a willingness on their part to contribute to the nasty, baseless, and personal attack laden rhetoric that not only cheapens and debases our national politics but also permeates our local community dialogue.

    There is absolutely no evidence to support many of the claims Mr. Pinney makes and if he were advertising a consumer product he would be prosecuted by the Federal Trade Commission for false, misleading or deceptive advertising. The President is not a Muslim, Valerie Jarrett is not the President of the United States, Hillary Clinton is not a lesbian, and the list of actions PInney listed as “crimes” is so demonstrably false that they would constitute libel in any other circumstances.

    The fact that our ability to engage in rational local political dialogue to solve real community problems has dropped to such a low level, that our local politics has become an extension of the debasement of our national politics and persists in between elections and insinuates itself into every issue in the community from terrazzo lights to homelessness to non-partisan offices, is a failure of our institutions to set community standards by example.

    A community newspaper should be more than a place to advertise soap. Yes a free press plays a critical role in checking the power of government by shining a light on misdeeds. But a free press also has both a professional and legal responsibility to be accurate, just as an advertised consumer product does, and when we package lies, falsehoods and innuendo as truth, we diminish the credibility of our free press to play its appropriate role in our democracy.

    The Union could be playing a critical role in creating an environment for real community issues to be explored, where productive dialogue in the community can be facilitated, where information can be presented that contributes to democracy. The way for newspapers to maintain their competitive position in the new media universe is to be relevant, to provide value, to step up to its role as a place for rational leadership, not by debasing itself.

    By the way, the last issue of the Amador Ledger Dispatch, published since 1855 and one of the oldest papers in the state, was printed on Friday.

    1. I’ve been thinking more about this over the past 24 hours: Both the highly inflammatory full-page ad itself, and The Union management’s decision to publish it and happily collect the ad revenue. And those who think this is about free speech, not poor judgement on the part of “community” journalists. (See Miami Herald v. Tornillo). It is surreal. I swear. Surreal.

      And it does impact our youth and how we are perceived. As Nevada Union High chemistry teacher Chris Bishop’s son (going to college at UC San Diego) told his dad: “Why are the oldies (in Nevada County) always trying to drag us down”? It is a common refrain among our youth. At the same time, ironically, the County is spending over $600,000 with the Nevada County Economic Rescource Council on economic development geared toward smart youth (such as virtual reality and augmented reality). Talk about mixed messages!

      This issue is lighting up the boards in a Facebook discussion, but for all the wrong reasons. One example: “There has been bothersome issues with their content in the past but this is way over the line.” Or “Not surprised,this paper needs the money,no matter the source!”

      On a more positive front, I often like to refer readers to Moonshine Ink, a publication that began in 2002 and now is making significant contributions in community journalism. I know the Sierra Business Council has honored this paper too. It is relevant, informative and has won some high honors for investigative community journalism:

      1. Whoops, well, I meant to post my last remark to Steve’s latest reply above.

        But while I’m at it, thank you Jeff for initiating this important discussion. And thanks for your thoughtful contributions to it too. I’m learning from all of you.

  11. Funny how Norm mentions the propaganda mainstream media but give a pass to FAUX News, the propaganda lamestream media.

  12. So first, I think it is a good thing that Mr. Rogers addressed this issue, he should be applauded for it. I also think he is trying to make amends. That is a class move.

    Now that we have acknowledged it’s good he addressed it and that he is sincere, what the heck does this even mean:
    “From what I’m hearing from readers, we drew the lines too loosely. Or rather, I did. I made the final call. Ironically enough, I did so not out of sympathy for the positions taken, but in trying to apply standards of libel, invasion of privacy, obscenity and clearness of opinion from facts. And also from the standpoint of political rhetoric in an advertisement as opposed to news or commentary.

    This does raise an obvious question that doesn’t seem to bother our big league brethren: If it wouldn’t make the cut for commentary, why should it get a chance as a political advertisement?

    It’s one we’ll have to consider more thoroughly in the future, plainly.” –Mr. Rogers

    With all due respect that statement is not plain at all.

    Is it an apology? Is it an explanation? Is it a musing? I think that was an apology but I really can’t quite tell.

    If it is not an apology just state that–“we drew the line at whether or not the content of the ad was libel”–and move on.

    When did we lose our ability to execute a proper apology?

    Here are the basic parts; 1) start with “I apologize…”, 2) admit responsibility, 3) make amends or pledge to take corrective action, 4) promise that it won’t happen again.

    Here is how it could have gone,:
    “Upon additional consideration of our decision to publish the paid advertisement titled “Is Your President a Muslim” in October 29, 2016 issue of The Union, we apologize for its publication. We take responsibility for not having a policy in place to adequately review advertising to avoid publishing material that does not meet our desired standards. We will develop such a policy based on industry best practices in the next [month?] and publish the standards that will be applied to future submissions. We are confident that updating our policy will avoid this problem reoccurring. Once again, we apologize to our valued readers.”

    Oh yeah, when you say it you have to actually mean it.

  13. Agreed … kudos to Mr Rogers for an attempt at clarification, clearly made under duress. But it was far short of an apology and well short of a grasp on the impact of Pinney’s steaming pile of dung masquerading as a paid political ad. This is what I just wrote and posted to Mr Rogers piece in the commentary section… “Racist is exactly what this is. And worse. It is despicable in every way. Your decision to run this diatribe thinly disguised as a political advertisement, and it was entirely within your right to either print or not print this, shows incredibly poor judgement and is an indication you and The Union are willing to contribute to the vitriol and personal-attack laden rhetoric and baseless claims now permeating our national and local dialogs. But beyond that, your decision to print Mr. Pinney’s garbage is an unfortunate reflection on the community as a whole. I would surmise a good number of visitors who may have picked up a paper this weekend, as travelers to a new community are apt to do, now see us through a lens that is less than complimentary. We have been subscribers for a long time as well, but frankly, are now rethinking whether this is how we want to see our subscription dollars being used.”

  14. This morning Rodgers try’s to backpeddle all over the map about what Frank Pinney wrote.
    “From what I’m hearing from readers, we drew the lines too loosely. Or rather, I did. I made the final call. Ironically enough, I did so not out of sympathy for the positions taken, but in trying to apply standards of libel, invasion of privacy, obscenity and clearness of opinion from facts. And also from the standpoint of political rhetoric in an advertisement as opposed to news or commentary.
    This does raise an obvious question that doesn’t seem to bother our big league brethren: If it wouldn’t make the cut for commentary, why should it get a chance as a political advertisement?
    It’s one we’ll have to consider more thoroughly in the future, plainly.”
    Ya Think??? Better for you to ask forgiveness than ask permission? Now that’s journalism.

  15. “Ya Think?” is right. The Union management revealed what journalism amateurs they really are. Still no word how much money they made off the Pinney rant.

  16. Funny Ya Think Don? – Just spoke to the Union and the “rant” that Pinney made in the paper cost $1600. I was just told that all political ads have a “reduced flat rate”. In this case 10″ x 21″ is a full page.
    Rogers goes on and on and on trying to walk back about Pinney this morning, but he took the guys money. Hide the weeny any way you want, it still amounts to a mouth full of Bullshi**-

  17. George “Raghead” Rebane weighs in: “So Mr Rogers, ignore the progressive pinhead contingent of your readership, and let it be.” Of course. And that’s what has The Union in the nosedive it is in today.

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