THE BLOG

USA Today Runs Ad for Shady AIDS Group

03/26/2009 06:05 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

by Christopher Weaver, ProPublica

It turns out the New York Times isn't the only major paper selling its Web space to the Center for AIDS Prevention, a sketchy charity that ProPublica dug into earlier this week. USA Today is also running the ads -- right across the top of the front page on their Web site.

The Center
disseminates incorrect information about HIV prevention, and the center's proprietor is connected to a now-defunct herbal remedy company that offered an ineffective AIDS treatment. There is also no evidence the Center has ever engaged in any charitable activities, despite the claim that they've been fighting AIDS for more than 20 years. Here's our original story.

As of late Tuesday afternoon, both the Times and USA Today were still running ads for the Center.

href="http://www.propublica.org/article/new-york-times-sketchy-aids-agencys-
ad-stands-0326">The Times told us they wouldn't take the ad down because it considers the charity "legitimate" -- in the sense that the IRS recognizes it as a charitable, 501(c)3 organization. "We do not read a book in order to accept advertising for it," a spokeswoman said by e-mail.

Spokeswomen for Gannett, USA Today's parent company, did not reply to phone messages left Thursday morning. We also called the paper's advertising department, but nobody has gotten back to us yet.

The Times has been running the Center's tiny banner ad for over week.
We learned about USA Today's bigger version when the Raw Story, a news Web site, >brought it to our attention this morning.

ProPublica is America's largest investigative newsroom.