Reade has an apology with no ifs, ands or buts

By Reade Brower | Nov 05, 2018

When this hits print, the midterm elections will be decided. For others, reading online before you’ve voted, you get to determine whether the egregious nature of the full-page ad in these papers (also in a printed flyer mailed to homes in Rockland and Owls Head; towns served by Democratic State Rep. Pinny Beebe-Center) will affect your vote.

It was an attack ad and in poor taste, using graphics of razor blades next to Pinny’s name and a screaming baby with wording suggesting Beebe-Center was unwilling to protect girls from genital mutilation.

The full-page ad was strategic, used emotionally charged graphics and was placed in the papers so close to Election Day that Pinny’s ability to answer the charges was compromised, and the Courier papers' effort to apologize and distance themselves was limited.

The ad, placed by a PAC led by Republican Rep. Paula Sutton of Warren, was meant to do one thing; disparage Pinny, and other Democrats in Maine, where the PAC used the same ad to suggest their opponents were somehow “for” female genital mutilation because they did not vote to support a partisan bill whose purpose was to put state Democrats into a “lose-lose” position. If they voted for the bill, it would be viewed as anti-immigrant, and if they didn’t, it opened them up to cheap attacks like this.

Anyone who knows Pinny understands what she stands for and her belief in people. Supporters were unnerved and angry at this mean-spirited ad suggesting she was pro-mutilation.

The ad should have been refused at submission by the Courier papers because the graphics were over the top. It was not rejected; when alerted, the Courier issued an apology to Pinny and readers in the communities they serve, taking the ad down from its Village Soup website, but was unable to change what had already been printed.

The visuals chosen by Sutton and her group for this ad are not defensible and should not have been allowed in these newspapers. The claim that Pinny is unwilling to protect young women from abuse is misleading and contrary to everything Pinny has spent a lifetime doing; working with women’s groups and the homeless in a life that has always served others.

The apology by the newspaper contained no ifs, ands, or buts -- it read: “We failed to live up to the standards the community has a right to expect from us. Rest assured, seeing flaws in our tracking systems, we have established new internal policies to ensure nothing like this happens again.”

Some readers applauded the apology, while others wanted more; I'm not sure what more one can do but accept and own a mistake, which was done, and make changes to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Pinny’s explanation that “This bill was not meant to protect anyone but to smear a population” holds water, while the position taken by Sutton and by Pinny’s opponent, Republican Maynard Stanley, don’t. Neither would apologize for the graphic content, doubling down and saying this bill was necessary to protect females from genital mutilation, rejecting Maine State Attorney General Janet Mills' statement that laws already prohibit this in Maine, or the fact that there have not been any documented cases or federal prosecutions in Maine that would lead to the need for additional legislation.

Pinny added, “This was the most racist bill to come before us this year.” Rockland Mayor Valli Geiger weighed in, adding; “I just received this same disgusting piece of garbage in the mail. Paula Sutton, how could you do this?”

Geiger added; “Pinny is one of the finest people I know, working tirelessly getting the homeless shelter back open, interim director of New Hope for Women, the list goes on. What have you (Paula Sutton) done besides vote to decrease children’s funding, vote to decrease mental health services, vote to decrease child protective services and vote against Medicaid expansion? What is wrong with you? Such a vicious unethical act.”

What was Paula thinking; that is for voters to decide and act on. The fact that a bill was introduced, knowing it wouldn’t pass, purely for political reasons, is a system failure. No apology has been forthcoming from Sutton, Pinny’s opponent, Maynard Stanley, or the PAC Sutton leads.

If we don’t hold these acts accountable at elections, this will continue to be seen as acceptable behavior. Political battles should be determined on issues, not by graphics meant to horrify and distort a person’s character and moral integrity.

Rather than use graphics that stigmatize our Muslim and immigrant population, we would be better served finding positive ways to shape policy that protects and embraces; contrary to many who support this PAC, including Sutton and the anti-immigration policies of the LePage administration she openly supports.

As a society, we are better than this.

Or, are we?

Tuesday, Nov. 6 will give us a clue.

“A king can stand people fighting but he can’t last long if people start thinking.”

-- Will Rogers, humorist (1879-1935)

If you appreciated reading this news story and want to support local journalism, consider subscribing today.
Call (207) 594-4401 or join online at
Donate directly to keeping quality journalism alive at
Comments (13)
Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Nov 07, 2018 05:41

INTEGRITY is refreshing!

Posted by: Valli Genevieve Geiger | Nov 06, 2018 20:56

I want to Thank the Courier for its response to running this awful attack ad. From the beginning, the Courier has worked to make this right. John Viehman called Pinny as soon as he was aware that the ad had slipped through, met with her the following day and placed an apology within hours of meeting with Pinny. Dan Dunkle and Steve Betts, on the editorial side, saw the ad, did some investigative work and called the ad out for the reprehensible attack it was. Now, Reade Brower, the owner and publisher has put forth another apology and a spirited defense of Pinny Beebe-Center. Thank for for your willingness to apologize, to make no attempt to defend this ad’s publication and your engagement with the community. We are lucky to have a local paper with such integrity.

Valli Geiger

Posted by: Reade Brower | Nov 06, 2018 15:29

P.S. - added to post below: It's one thing to expect the best in people - quite another to demand perfection, which is unattainable particularly when there's the human element involved. When did we set the bar so high for forgiveness, that people have to be perfect?

Posted by: Reade Brower | Nov 06, 2018 15:27

To those who think a "no ifs, ands or buts" apology is not enough and want more; this is it. Management and ownership have taken the rap on this one and have instituted measures to create a tracking system for political ads, similar to what many of our other companies have. If people want us to throw a specific person or people "under the bus" - it's not happening. This was an error caused because we didn't have an internal policy (our bad) for approving political ads. It was not deliberate, there was no agenda; this was a lapse in our advertising process and nobody violated policy. Period. And for those who are wondering, we quietly donated the Courier revenues received from the ad to a non-profit that Pinny is associated with. End of story. New chapters ahead. Onward.

Posted by: Stephen K Carroll | Nov 06, 2018 08:50

Reade if your explaination piece does nothing more than gets Pinny elected and Stanley defeated, you will have succeeded .  Regarding your promise to change the "tracking system", I agree with Paul Chartrand "What tracking system ?"  Don't know how to break this to ya, but the Courier has NO tracking system.  As far as asking for more details, I think it is quite plain, we all want to know why NO-ONE questioned running this ad.. I posed this question to Dan Dunkle last week and all he said is that the paper printed an apology.  I think you are saying no one will be held responsible for what happened.  I cannot believe NO ONE at the paper said nothing to any supervisor.  You are stating NO-ONE questioned this.  You are doing a good sales job, but we're not buying.  Like so many stories in the Courier, you do a good job stating the facts, but so often leave us hungry for more information.  We would like to hear the rest of the story.

Posted by: Carol W Bachofner | Nov 06, 2018 06:50

Thanks Reade for the statement. I have had the freely chosen task of serving as Pinny Beebe-Center's Treasurer during her campaigns for office. She is beyond reproach in her campaigning and in her service to the people of our district most especially women, children, and young people. Vote Pinny Beebe-Center today!!

Bill Bachofner

Posted by: Paul Chartrand | Nov 06, 2018 06:25

I would like to see more explanation of the so called "tracking system", which would allow a full page ad with such graphics to be approved with no human reviewing it beforehand. It seems that is the only way this could have been submitted and printed, with no oversight at all. Either that or those who reviewed the ad need to be sanctioned and replaced in that role. The simple apology you offer Reade, is not sufficient to convince me that this could not happen again. What flaws were found and what new internal policies have been put in place to avoid this in future? More details, please!  Paul Chartrand

Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Nov 06, 2018 04:05

I agree that bringing back member's stories is important. We may not always agree, yet it creates dialogue and the negativity is quickly seen for what it is.  Some of us aren't as eloquent as others, yet have heard, "What comes from the heart touches the heart".

Posted by: James Bowers | Nov 05, 2018 20:57

Thank you Reade. That ad was over the top as are so many others such as the one that aired on NBC Sunday night. We need to stop this kind of vitriol.

Posted by: Jennifer Hill | Nov 05, 2018 15:27

Who could possibly hold you responsible, Reade? You're not "day-to-day," rather leaving decisions to the publisher and editor.

You might want to rethink this policy. I understand that two of our outspoken citizens, Ron Huber and Lawrence Reichard, have now been banned in various forms from your newspapers. Discontinuing member stories did a disservice to our community. Perhaps it's time to take a more active role in supervising your investments by replacing key decision makers.

Posted by: Bradley Williams | Nov 05, 2018 14:13

It was a dirty cheap shot for sure.

I'm guessing that none of the candidates are for female mutilation.

I'm guessing that the liberal Democrats are more predisposed towards liberal policies allowing such things as Sharia "Law" onto our shores via unscreened illegal immigrants than our border defending Republicans are, so this Mainer is still voting Republican.

Good to see a paper "fess up" when they blow it.

You should do it more often.

Posted by: John Spear | Nov 05, 2018 13:54

This attack ad is ludicrous, as there is absolutely no member of the Maine House more committed to protecting women and children than Pinny Beebe-Center. Plain and simple.

John Spear, Representative District 92

Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Nov 05, 2018 12:24

Wow! Only in America does free press thrive!  I say vote and prove we are for Democratic free choice and not living in the dark ages where women are submissive to societal ills! Surely one would vote blue at the poles after this atrocious slander.

If you wish to comment, please login.