There it was, right on the front page of the Plain Dealer, big as life and twice as ugly. In fact, it was in front of the front page, one of those pull off sections that cover a third of the front page, with a full page behind it. The kind of advertising usually engaged in by furniture stores and auto dealerships.
But this ad wasn’t for mattresses and box springs, nor was it for new cars. It was for guns — all kinds and types of them — from handguns to the types of powerful weaponry that was recently used by the madman in Las Vegas. And just in case you missed getting a paper on the first day the ad ran, the gun company repeated the same ad a few days later, as if they were thumbing their nose at anyone humane enough to be sensitive to the mass slaughter that was carried out merely a month ago. That same thumb served two purposes, as it was meant to be stuck in the eye of any sane American that might begin to question our insane gun laws.
One PD reader, Ralph Turek of Strongsville, wrote a Letter to the Editor questioning the propriety and wisdom of the newspaper accepting such an advertisement. He wrote, in part, “You routinely criticize President Donald Trump and the GOP for their moral elasticity and their sacrifice of principle for the sake of financial gain. And yet you continue to parade this disgusting advertisement in our faces.”
Well said Mr. Turek, well said.
The revulsion felt by those citizens who want to bring a degree of sanity to our gun laws no doubt was palpable. I too shook my head in disbelief when I saw the advertisements.
But I know that a firewall exists between the advertising department and the editorial board at the PD (and every other newspaper), and it exists for good reason: to prevent the advertising sales force from having any influence over what is written in the paper. Alas, it doesn’t cut both ways. The writers can refuse to write something laudatory about the gun industry, but they can’t stop such ads from running.
I can well imagine the editorial thinkers at the PD cringing when the ads were ran. I would go so far as to assume that they might not have even known the ads were running until they saw them on the same morning as the readership. But even if they were consulted (and trust me, they were not) before the ads ran and had protested vigorously, their protestations — in an era of shrinking revenues for newspapers — would have come to naught.
Now I could simply be giving the editorial board the benefit of the doubt since it did endorse me a few months back when I ran for city council — which proves they are some pretty bright folks, right? (Smile). And while I did garner every other endorsement in my race — from unions, to teachers, to Stonewall Democrats, to the Cuyahoga County Progressive Caucus — the one that people came up to me and shook my hand and patted me on the back over was the one I received from the PD. So the paper evidently still has some clout and respect.
Nonetheless, the running of the ads no doubt did diminish that respect in the eyes of some readers.
Mr. Turek stated it best: “What happened to your principles?” The truth is, advertising sales folks have no principles … after all, someone made a huge commission on those gun ads. But at what cost to the PD?
From CoolCleveland correspondent Mansfield B. Frazier mansfieldfATgmail.com. Frazier’s From Behind The Wall: Commentary on Crime, Punishment, Race and the Underclass by a Prison Inmate is available in hardback. Snag your copy and have it signed by the author at http://NeighborhoodSolutionsInc.com.