Today, many visitors to the New York Times website have encountered an ad that spreads across the homepage and looks like this:
The ad, featuring a black and white view of New York’s Twin Towers, promotes The Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT), a non-profit self-described as “the world’s most comprehensive data center on radical Islamic terrorist groups.” The IPT was founded by Steven Emerson, the author of several books on terrorism and jihad, who last year accused a Saudi man of being the author of the Boston Marathon bombing.
To some, at least, this looks pretty Islamophobic:
And so does the full page ad in the print edition of the Times that the IPT took out yesterday (May 21), to mark the opening of the 9/11 memorial where the Twin Towers stood.
A Times spokesperson told Digiday that “The ad was reviewed internally and complies with our policy on advocacy ads.” As Digiday notes, that policy says (pdf, p.2): “We do not accept advertisements that are gratuitously offensive on racial, religious or ethnic grounds or that are considered to be in poor taste.”
The print ad mentions “Islamic terror” and similar variations 19 times. How many times is gratuitous?