Herald Bundles Controversial Documentary with Sunday's Paper

Miami Herald subscribers got a little more than the paper delivered to their doors on Sunday. Bundled inside was a DVD of the controversial documentary "Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West". The Clarion Fund paid to distribute the DVD through about 70 newspapers and magazines to subscribers in swing states to coincide officially with the seventh anniversary of 9/11, and unofficially the upcoming presidential election.

The documentary, which in one segment intermingles scenes of Muslim children being recruited to be suicide bomber with images of Nazis, has offended Muslim groups in America, and many screenings on campuses have been protested. Opponents fear it could incite violence, and does not do enough to differentiate between radical Islam and mainstream Islam. Many of the pundits interviewed in the film have espoused controversial views on all forms of Islam, elsewhere.

It's not like New Times has much room to talk when it comes to having high standards for the advertising we accept (we're still your number one source for erotic massage ads), but this strikes us as a bit offensive.

Would The Herald insert a DVD of a pro-Castro documentary? No. Readers would pull their subscriptions so fast their heads would spin.

Newspapers are on hard times right now, and allowing advertising stunts like this isn't surprising. However, it is frustrating that over 70 newspapers decided it was worth potentially offending Muslim readers for advertising dollars.The lesson: if you're a negligible economic forces in this country, companies won't be afraid to offend you if there's money involved.

Notably, The Herald, unlike many newspapers, did not print a story explaining the reason for including the DVD or warning of its controversial nature. In Florida The Fort Myers News-Press printed a story in this vein, while the Orlando Sentinel let their film reviewer, Roger Moore, tear the film to pieces on his blog. Moore calls the film "an alarmist manifesto" that is "utterly lacking in context." It would have been nice if more papers that carried the insert provided that context.

--Kyle Munzenrieder

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