Via Wonkette, a small paper serving the Atlanta suburb of Roswell, Georgia called the Roswell Beacon is drawing fire for running a cover that depicts Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama in the crosshairs of a gun sight. The cover image promotes a story by freelance reporter Alan Sverdlik, who penned the article because "he was curious how law enforcement agencies were handling the increased number of threats lodged against Obama by white supremacist groups" in the Fulton County area. Sverdlik has told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he had no input on the cover design that accompanied the article.
A diary on the popular liberal blog DailyKos is driving much of the outrage at the Roswell Beacon. As Kos Diarist "Spiral Stairs" puts it:
The accompanying article is about hate groups in the area who are upset about Senator Obama's candidacy and concerns the local authorities have about possible violent acts from these groups. The article itself is not offensive, but the cover is beyond the pale. As indicated by the article, there are some serious racists in the area, and Obama's candidacy has brought out the worst in a lot of people. The last thing we need is a newspaper to suggest assassination with an incendiary cover such as this.
The AJC reports that the outcry has had limited effect:
Readers -- Kos receives more than 1.3 million visits a day, according to sitemeter.com -- were encouraged to contact the newspaper and its advertisers. By day's end, Holiday Inn announced it would no longer do business with the Beacon, though the paper's publisher, John Fredericks, said editorial decisions would not be influenced by "liberal blogger thuggery."
"Good, bad or ugly, we tell the truth," he said.
Fredericks and senior editor Tim Altork said there was little internal debate over the appropriateness of the imagery, though they were aware it was likely to create a stir.
"We knew we were on the provocative edge," Altork said. "But it's a very fair piece, a smart piece."
Nevertheless, this "fair...smart piece" has been seemingly expunged from the newspaper's website.