The Weekly Standard Calls Incident “Anomaly’

The Weekly Standard is suffering from a painful new media advertising hangover this morning after yesterday’s debacle. As we reported Thursday, the publication’s marketing department shot an email blast to subscribers with a letter from an advertiser, Public Advocate, saying gays were “deviant” and trying to “ram” pro-homosexual education through Congress. That’s mild — the letter decimating gays was long and hate-filled.

This morning The Weekly Standard‘s Publisher Terry Eastland told FishbowlDC that the incident was unprecedented. Though there were whispers of possible firings yesterday, Eastland said no one is getting canned. He called it an “anomaly” and said the mistakes were “certainly unintentional.”

Email blasts of this nature are a relatively new beast in the world of media — The Weekly Standard only began doing them in October. We’re told the publication had not used Public Advocate previously in its advertising, and won’t likely use them again. “I can’t imagine that we would if we get a message like this,” said Eastland, who has been publisher for the past decade, in a phone interview. “All I can say is, I can’t imagine it in this context. As you know from reading the magazine, we’re in the business of writing about ideas and thought. This is hardly the sort of thing we do in terms of ads. That’s why I said in the statement that it’s obviously not the sort of ad we run and I regret its distribution. It’s totally an anomaly.”

After the blast went out, angry subscribers wrote in to complain. “I took steps that one would rationally take,” said Eastland. He sent this email to the full subscriber list Thursday afternoon:

Earlier today we sent you a paid ad from a third party. We did so by
mistake — our vetting process broke down. The ad was obviously not one we
ordinarily accept, and we regret its distribution. We are taking steps to
ensure that a mistake of this kind doesn’t happen again.
Terry Eastland
Publisher, The Weekly Standard

So what really happened? As it was explained to us, a salesman of two years with a good reputation was handling the account but was out of the office. The email ad came in, but was not reviewed by proper advertising personnel. The ad was blasted out by a “marketing traffic person” before anyone with sense could read it. Eastland said it was a system breakdown and insisted steps are being taken to ensure that it doesn’t happen again. “Our process was one that had broken down,” he said. “The person who took the call doesn’t handle this area. This happened for us at the end of the year in a week that is dark when no one is working here. At any other time of the year it would have been different.”

Those inside the publication are “embarrassed” and see it as a complete breakdown of what the magazine has been trying to stand for in the past decade and beyond. They say anti-gay ramblings are not ideas they support.

But maybe most embarrassing of all is that the ads themselves are not moneymakers. “No one’s making a lot of dough off it,” an insider told us.