Newspaper Publishes, Quickly Deletes Op-Ed Supporting Proud Boys

The Herald-Tribune says it 'erred' in providing a platform to support the far-right group
By Mike L. Ford,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 11, 2022 7:10 PM CDT
Sarasota Newspaper Regrets Printing Op-Ed by Wife of Proud Boy
In this Sept. 7, 2020, file photo, a protester carries a Proud Boys banner in front of the Oregon State Capitol. The Canadian government designated the Proud Boys as a terrorist entity on Feb. 3, 2021, noting they played a pivotal role in the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.   (AP Photo/Andrew Selsky, File)

Local hubbub involving the Sarasota County School Board and the far-right Proud Boys has trickled into the national media and created a headache for staff at the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Back on June 24, the paper published a guest column by Lisa Gialdini Schurr calling on school board candidates to denounce the Proud Boys—"frequent disruptors" at school board meetings who also operate locally under a politically active "front group" called Unmask Freedom. In her column, Schurr named Nicholas and Melissa Radovich, husband and wife who are central to the Proud Boys movement in the area.

In the name of fairness, the Herald-Tribune published an op-ed by Melissa Radovich this Sunday entitled "Attacking Proud Boys Does a Disservice to Caring School Parents." Its author was identified as "a mother who lives in the Sarasota County School district and … an executive at an area manufacturing education company." But she was not identified as the wife of a Proud Boy, nor did she mention it in her piece. The backlash was "intense," according to Mediaite, "both for the newspaper’s decision to publish it in the first place and for the failure to disclose Radovich's marriage to a Proud Boy."

Radovich's op-ed was deleted Monday morning, though of course it remains in the print edition. Herald-Tribune executive editor Jennifer Orsi posted a statement saying "an editor felt it fair to give [Radovich] a chance to respond," but the piece did not meet editorial standards. And while the paper strives "to provide a broad range of views," it will "not provide a forum for support of the Proud Boys, an extremist group that promotes white nationalist views." As the New Jersey Globe notes, the Herald-Tribune is owned by Gannett Company, which owns USA Today and more than 250 dailies and announced recently that it was "dramatically decreasing the footprint of their opinion pages" because they were "alienating readers" and not producing page views. (Read more Proud Boys stories.)

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