America’s most Trump-loving metropolitan area woke up to a shock Wednesday morning.
On Page 3 of the Abilene Reporter-News, a paid ad welcomed “Republicans’ New World Order.”
At first, it looked like a political ad mocking Friday’s inauguration of President-elect Donald J. Trump, a New Yorker but favored by 79 percent of voters in the Greater Abilene-Sweetwater Metro Area.
The ad even gave the date: “Officially Starting Jan. 20, 2017.”
But then came the tagline:
“Brought to you by:
“Republicons, White Supremacists, Mammonites, Evangelicals, Plutocrats, CONServatives, Ku Klux Klan, Vladimir Putin, American Nazi Party, Fascists, Oligarchists, Tea Party.”
Reader reaction was only a Facebook click away.
The unsigned satirical ad was “shameful,” “fake news” and “hate speech,” readers raged.
“To see it in the paper outside the political season, days before he’s sworn in as president, came as a surprise,” McMurry University political science professor Paul Fabrizio said Thursday.
Some of the fake “sponsors” are familiar: the Klan, Nazis, fascism.
But I doubt many Democrats would know to blame Mammonites, a biblical reference to those who worship money.
“I haven’t even had time to look up a couple of the terms,” Fabrizio said: “It was ridiculous.”
Fabrizio said the newspaper regularly publishes opinion columns and letters opposing Trump, just not like this.
“It was taken as a real attack on people,” he said.
It was definitely no laughing matter to Publisher Jeff DeLoach, a former circulation executive.
DeLoach apologized to readers Thursday on Page One, writing that the ad “offended me” and that had he known, the ad “would not have run, period.”
If the newspaper was embarrassed, so were Democrats.
“We’re sure it wasn’t any of us,” said Kristina Campos-Davis of the Taylor County Democratic Party.
Trump wasn’t always Abilene’s favorite. In the March primary, county Republicans voted 2-to-1 for U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz as their party’s nominee.
But by November, they gave Trump a 51-point victory.
“Democrats are definitely the minority out here,” Campos-Davis said: “But we try to move the community toward the center with grace and fairness. … We try to raise the conversation so it doesn’t get to this level of ugliness.”
Leave that to the pros in Washington.