The Friday, January 21 New York Times had it all: The bold headline proclaiming Bush’s second inauguration, the front-page shot of Dubya and Laura strolling down Pennsylvania Avenue, and the excerpts from the address in which the prez invoked the word “freedom” 27 times.
What it didn’t have was a full-page ad from the anti-war group Not in Our Name displaying a statement of conscience that read in part, “As George W. Bush is inaugurated for a second term, let it not be said that people in the United States silently acquiesced in the face of this shameful coronation of war, greed, and intolerance.”
Hoping to do anything but acquiesce, NION paid a reserve fee, rather than a standby fee, for the ad, which NION said was meant to guarantee that it ran on Friday amid the paper’s inauguration coverage (The total cost was $75,000). But the ad did not appear that day. Instead, it ran on Sunday. Besides being two days after all the inauguration buzz, the snowstorm hampered newspaper deliveries that day.
“The NION ad did not run when scheduled because of a systems glitch,” says New York Times Company vice president for communications Catherine J. Mathis. “The ad was assigned a registration number and was scheduled to run, but because an issue revenue record was not created by the system, our traffic and makeup staff were not aware of the ad.”
NION is not accusing the Times of censoring its ad. But in the 10,000 e-mails that NION’s Emna Zghal claims to have received on the ad’s late arrival, there was at least one reference to an earlier misplaced Times ad involving a controversial subject.
It dates back to 1988, when the Alternative Museum—which now exists only online—paid for an ad promoting its upcoming show “Conflicts in the Global Village.” The ad depicted what appears to be a young Palestinian boy holding a gun (it’s not clear if it’s a toy or the real thing), standing next to an even smaller little girl.
It never ran, according to museum director Geno Rodriguez. “They just misplaced it or couldn’t find it, or ‘Could we run it maybe next week?’ and of course we wanted it to be published in time for the opening of the exhibition,” Rodriguez tells the Voice. “I’d like to say, hey, it could be an honest mistake,” Rodriguez says. “But it was extremely suspicious and I know that we were very, very pissed off.”
But it’s not like the January 21 Times was lacking in anti-war sentiment. There was a full-page plug for Deepak Chopra’s book Peace Is the Way, headlined “War Ends Today.” A few pages later, there was a full-page ad from the Movement for Active Democracy in Iceland that declared, “We, citizens of Iceland, protest in the strongest possible terms against the Icelandic authorities’ support for the invasion of Iraq.”
A NION press release on Sunday said, “The only equitable recompense for the failure to run the ad on Friday is for the Times to re-publish the ad on a day when the newspaper is actually delivered. The committee is also requesting further investigation into why the ad did not appear on January 21 as contracted, with the results made public.”
“We are working with NION to reach a fair resolution,” Mathis says.