By: Joe Strupp
The publisher of a Pennsylvania newspaper that ran a classified ad appearing to call for the assassination of President Barack Obama said it was “unfortunate” the ad made it into the paper. He also said it drew dozens of phone calls to the paper and a likely visit from federal officials.
Publisher John Elchert of the Times-Observer in Warren also told E&P the ad — slated to run for three days — was stopped after appearing once Thursday. “It is unfortunate that it got past our classified people,” he said. “My first call [Thursday] was to the police chief and I believe his protocol is to contact the Secret Service.”
The ad stated: “May Obama follow in the footsteps of Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley & Kennedy!” All four of those presidents, of course, were assassinated in office. Elchert said when the ad was taken, the staffer who took it “did not make the connection of what tied those presidents together.”
Elchert, a four-year publisher at the Ogden paper, said he did not recall any other time the paper had to reject a classified ad, or received so many reader responses. “My phone has been ringing off the hook. I had 20 readers call me before yesterday noon,” he told E&P. “I bet I have had 50 to 75 since.”
Elchert said he had not been contacted by federal authorities, but added, “my understanding is there will be an agent in town, but I don’t know if it is FBI or Secret Service.”
He said the ad likely cost less than $30, but he did not have the exact price. “My understanding is that it is a local resident, but I know nothing of him,” Elchert said.
The paper also ran an editor’s note Friday that stated:
“An errant classified ‘personal’ ad which appeared in Thursday’s Times Observer has drawn the attention of law enforcement officials.
“A person from Warren placed the ad, which apparently alludes to the wish that President Obama meet an untimely end by linking him with four assassinated presidents. The ad representative didn’t make the connection among the four other presidents mentioned and mistakenly allowed the ad to run.
“Upon realizing the mistake early Thursday morning, the ad was immediately discontinued and the identity of the person who placed the ad was turned over to Warren City Police as per newspaper policy. The local police department forwarded the information to federal authorities, as per department policy.
“The Times Observer apologizes for the oversight.”
Elchert said the staffer responsible for placing the ad had not been fired or punished in any way: “We have had sessions with the employee who took the ad, making sure to watch for these things.”