The Sarasota Herald-Tribune, a Florida daily newspaper, was forced to issue an apology and retract a column defending the Proud Boys, a violent white nationalist group, following public outrage and the revelation that the author is married to a member of the extremist group. organization.
In a message to readers from executive editor Jennifer Orsi on Monday, the newspaper admitted that the guest column failed to meet its editorial standards despite being published in print and online on Sunday.
The opinion page must not “provide a forum for support for the Proud Boys, an extremist group that promotes white nationalist views and has been labeled a terrorist group by two countries and has its leading members indicted on charges of seditious conspiracy in the January 1 elections. 6 Attack on Capitol,” Orsi wrote.
“Doing that is antithetical to our values as an organization and outside of our responsibility to provide a fair forum for differing viewpoints,” he continued.
The guest column ran with the headline “Attacking Proud Boys Hurts Doing Parents” and was a rebuttal to an earlier column calling for the Sarasota County School Board to condemn Proud Boys. In the deleted column, author Melissa Radovich wrote: “When I think of the Proud Boys, I think of parents, business owners, and veterans. These parents have spoken at many School Board meetings. They are concerned about the direction their local schools are taking and I commend them for attending School Board meetings.”
Notably, the column did not reveal that Radovich is married to a member of the Proud Boys, something that journalists in other outlets quickly discovered and revealed on Twitter.
Orsi wrote Monday that the Herald-Tribune decided to give Radovich a platform because the previous column condemning the Proud Boys criticized her and “an editor felt it was fair to give her a chance to respond.” However, the editor’s note did not explicitly acknowledge Radovich’s undisclosed relationship with the Proud Boys.
“We will continue to publish varied opinions from across the political spectrum on important local issues,” Orsi promised. “But this decision did not meet our standards and we apologize to our readers.”