- A Kentucky woman’s family complained of “censorship” after its local newspaper rejected an obituary that said President Donald Trump “hastened” her death.
- An email from Gannett, the media company that owns the Courier-Journal, said the newspaper was unable to publish the obituary if it contained “negative content.”
- The Courier-Journal’s editor, Rick Green, apologised to the family and said Tuesday the obituary should have been published in full, as the family intended.
A Kentucky newspaper apologised on Wednesday after rejecting a woman’s obituary because her family included a line that said President Donald Trump “hastened” her death.
When Frances Irene Finley Williams died at 87 on November 21, 2018, the obituary her family submitted to the Courier-Journal in Louisville described her as an adoring grandmother, a Sunday-school teacher, and a lively, spirited, well-read woman.
But after noting that Williams was “a passionate Democrat” who “did not suffer fools gladly,” her family intended for the very last line of the obituary above the funeral information to say: “Her passing was hastened by her continued frustration with the Trump administration.”
The line didn’t come from nowhere, according to Williams’ daughter, Cathy Duff. She told the Courier-Journal in a later interview that Williams warned six months before her death that, ‘If I die soon, all this Trump stuff has had an effect.”
But still, Gannett, the media company that owns the Courier-Journal, wouldn’t publish the obituary. “We are not able to publish the obituary as is, due to the negative content within the obituary text,” an email from the Gannett media company said, according to the Courier-Journal.
Reluctant to start an argument amid the funeral preparations, Williams’ family complied and removed the line from the obituary.
But Williams’ son, Art Williams, revealed in a January 4 Facebook post that the newspaper had told him to remove the line. He complained that the move was “censorship,” sparking a minor uproar and garnering dozens of comments.
The Courier-Journal’s editor, Rick Green, eventually issue an apology on Tuesday.
We screwed up. And I'm here to set the record straight. https://t.co/6BCAZ4T1XE
— Joe Gerth (@Joe_Gerth) January 15, 2019
“Mrs. Williams’ obituary should have published as it was presented to our obits team and as requested by the family,” Green told the newspaper’s columnist.
He continued: “In this political climate we now find ourselves, partisanship should have no role in deciding what gets included in an obituary that captures a loved one’s life – especially one as amazing as what Mrs. Williams led. I’m certain she is missed greatly by those who loved her. We send the family our deepest condolences and apologies.”
Art Williams said in a new Facebook post on Wednesday that Green had “graciously called my dad and apologised and offered to run the uncensored obituary in the paper at no charge.”
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