By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Newspaper runs Obama assassination ad

A Pennsylvania newspaper published an advertisement on Thursday calling for the assassination of President Obama. The ad, buried in the classifieds, says:

May Obama follow in the footsteps of Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley, & Kennedy!

According to this item at the Daily Kos, the ad — published in the Times Observer of Warren, Pa. — appears to have made it into the paper by accident. Publisher John Elchert is quoted as saying, “It is unfortunate that it made it to press. The person who took the ad didn’t recognize the significance of the names. We canceled the ad and turned the information over to the authorities.”

In an apology published in today’s edition, the Times Observer reports that the identity of the person who placed the ad was provided to local police, who in turn alerted federal authorities. (Via Greg Mitchell. The story is currently leading Romenesko as well.)

Image from Capitol Beat, which has also been covering the story.

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  1. Patricia of Trakai

    I could see not “getting” the Garfield and McKinley references, but Lincoln and Kennedy? How clueless ARE the people who get jobs as ad representatives these days? (Or, how is the U.S. educational system failing them in history lessons?)

  2. arthur.kane

    I just cancelled my donation check to “”

  3. David Rogers

    Best part of this post: the media criticism tag.

  4. Peter Porcupine

    Patricia – they are all dead, white males and most are Republicans to boot! How could they merit inclusion in a history class?

  5. Will Seberger

    I thought, and I might be wrong here, that it was a felony to even joke about or much less call for killing the President.

  6. Dan Kennedy

    Will: You’re not wrong. As I wrote, the person who took out the ad is being investigated by local and federal law enforcement.

  7. Who we are.

    This is tasteless.Perhaps some are being unfairly harsh on the minimum wage employee taking down classified ads for a bum-#$%@ newspaper. Hate the inbred calling for BHO’s assassination, but is there really a need to treat the overworked/underpaid newspaper employee with such vitriol?Be the change you wish to affect in the world.

  8. Steve

    Paul Schmelzer of the Minnesota Independent is adding this incident to his list.This one’s not as bad as last year’s Roswell Beacon’s illustration of Obama in a rifle’s crosshairs.

  9. bostonmediawatch

    1) It’s not the least bit surprising that this ad would get past whatever 20-something is in charge of classifieds at this paper.2) Is there no distinction between someone saying “I hope the President gets shot.” and someone saying “I am going to shoot the President.”?It seems like people are getting hair triggers over every little thing the last couple weeks.This ad, as worded, is neither “a call to assassinate the President”, nor a threat to assassinate the president.Is this a threat somehow because it was in a newspaper instead of on a message board?Can anybody read something they don’t like any more without pulling a goddamn fire alarm?

  10. Bill H.

    bostonmediawatch: The difference you raised seems to me to be the difference between saying, “I’m going to shoot the President,” as opposed to saying, “Why doesn’t someone else shoot the President?” In either case, the intent is clear, and in my view, criminal. (And Peter Porcupine, you’re a little over the top with the “dead white male” Republican business. If you don’t think that dead white males still occupy the vast majority of minutes in any U.S. history class, you’re wrong. )

  11. Don, American

    . . . and you mentioned here because?

  12. Ari Herzog

    You got me curious so I went hunting for presidential killing joke crime statutes.With the headline, Threats against former Presidents and certain other persons, it seems everything falls under Title 18 of the United States Code, Section 879.In so many words, the statute calls for a fine and/or imprisonment of no more than five years to anyone who “knowingly knowingly and willfully threatens to kill, kidnap, or inflict bodily harm” upon a member of the family of a former President, the President, Vice President, President-elect, Vice President-elect, a candidate for President or Vice President (or immediate family of such), or anyone else protected by the Secret Service.

  13. bostonmediawatch

    It’s a crime to threaten anyone with bodily harm.What constitutes a threat is the issue.”A prosecution under 18 U.S.C. § 879 would not only require proof that the statement could reasonably be perceived as a threat but would also require some evidence that the maker intended the statement to be a threat. Objective circumstances would bear upon the proof of both subjective intent and objective perceptions.”U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Attorneys’ Manual.

  14. Caitlan

    @ who we are: fun fact: people can't help whether they're inbred. They can though help whether they're hateful, which you and the person who placed this ad seem to be.

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