When I worked for newspapers, they had standards. There were limits. We had a certain sense of propriety and decency.
For at least one South Dakota newspaper, those days are over.
The winning lawyer, a south-central South Dakota weekly newspaper located in Winner, the seat of Tripp County, ran a secular ad in its Dec. 22 edition.
In a group ad, under the headline Good Christian Men Rejoice, was an ad (seen above in one of the many posts on Twitter) for winning welding and machine. It showed three men standing under a Merry Christmas banner. The stocky white-haired man in the middle was holding a sign that read “Let Brandon Go.”
The apostrophe was missing, as was the sense of true holiday spirit or the sense of decorum. I called to see why they had done this and what the reaction had been, and I had an amazing surprise.
The man who placed the ad is Brad Assman – yes, really – who owns the business. By the way, he pronounced his name “Aus-man”, and was very willing to explain why he was holding this sign.
Assman said he placed the ad to show his contempt for Biden. He voted for Donald Trump in 2016 and 2020 and said he believed the last election was stolen.
Assman said the photo in the ad was taken by an Advocate staff member and there was no concern about the sign he was holding. It is not even sure that the staff know what this meant.
âI am not a layman,â Assman said. âNot everyone knows what this means. “
He has a sign on his truck with the same words, and the response is mixed. Some people like him, others give him “one digit salute” and others ask him what it means.
When that happens, he shows a video that explains the derivation of the coded insult. For the most part, he told me on Monday, the feedback has been positive.
It could change.
Did the newspaper know what it was publishing? I called The Advocate and spoke to Laura Brown, the newspaper’s managing director, who said she was aware of what this meant. She said they were not commenting on the ad, but said the decision to publish was made by publisher Charley Najacht.
Him and his wife Norma owned and published the Custer County Chronicle and the Hill City Prevailer, but they sold those papers in the fall.
Come on brandon has become a popular insult among the insane far-right fringe of the Republican Party. It all started at a NASCAR race – always a gathering place for conservatives – at the Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama on October 2.
As a reporter attempted to interview the winning pilot, Brandon Brown, some weak-minded people, surely fueled by a few dozen beers, saw their chance when the TV camera turned on. They started clapping “F * $ @ Joe Biden” on live TV.
The reporter, who couldn’t clearly understand it, suggested they say, “Let’s go, Brandon.”
The right jumped on it. It has become a popular term to criticize the president, and not just for drunken talkers on a racetrack.
South Carolina Republican Jeff Duncan wore a ‘Let’s Go Brandon’ face mask on Capitol Hill, “the AP reported.
Texas Senator Ted Cruz said “Let’s Go Brandon” with an Astros fan at the World Series. Senator Mitch McConnell’s press secretary retweeted a photo of the phrase on a construction sign in Virginia.
South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem jumped aboard the expressway to Gutter Town when she posed with a T-shirt with the phrase in the Pheasant hunt at the invitation of Governor Noem, smiling as she posed with Terry Schultz, CEO of Mustang Seeds and founder of Madison Hospitality Group, LLC.
The original Brandon, NASCAR driver Brandon Brown, wrote a guest column for Newsweek saying he didn’t want to be drawn into the political arena – but then took some snapshots of the current situation in the country, including the price of gasoline. I guess he knows who’s in the stands every weekend cheering as a group of right-handed winger perform a seemingly endless series of left turns.
âI understand that millions of people are in trouble right now and are frustrated. Struggling to get by and struggling to build solid lives for themselves and their families, and wondering why their government only seems to make it worse, âhe wrote. âPeople have the right to frustration, even anger.
âLook, I buy more gasoline than most. I don’t like that $ 4 a gallon has become the norm. I know the cost of everything is increasing and I know firsthand that making ends meet can be a struggle for middle class people like me.
But at least he refrained from mentioning his own name. So far anyway.
An Oregon man repeated it during a phone call with President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden on Christmas Eve.
“Merry Christmas and let’s go, Brandon!” ” Jared Schmeck said during the call, one of the many Bidens did. Jill Biden appeared to wince, but the president, with half a century of politics under his belt, didn’t let himself be bothered.
âI agree,â Biden said.
He then asked if Schmeck was in Oregon, but the call ended. Schmeck, a former police officer, now claims he is being harassed and his free speech rights violated. After all, he claims, he was joking.
However, on Monday he made a podcast with Steve Bannon, the former Trump adviser and three-time winner of the Lookalike Character at Dive Bar competition.
Schmuck, uh, Schmeck, said he’s a fan of the old guy, despite what The Oregonian reported this weekend.
“Donald Trump is my president, and he should still be president at the moment,” he said wearing the little red MAGA cap.
What he needs to understand is that no one is attacking him for expressing his silly and insulting thoughts after the President wished his children a Merry Christmas. Of course, he has the right to say so. But the rest of us have every right to think he’s a bloody idiot.
Maybe he should find a job with the Winner Journal. The Advocate was probably playing at his base. Donald Trump won Tripp County with 80% of the votes in 2020.
Michael Freeman, who was the press secretary to former South Dakota Senator James Abdnor, a conservative Republican who toppled George McGovern in 1980, said the announcement spoke volumes about the GOP and the political discourse of ‘today.
âIt’s just a symbol of the Trump era,â said Freeman, who now lives in Maryland and works as a writer and professional association executive and has left the Republican Party after more than 40 years. âPeople feel more free to be the worst, the crudest and the most malicious themselves.
I’ve known Mike since we both ran for President of the SDSU Students’ Association in 1978. He won, thank goodness, and has been a shrill, tongue-in-cheek voice of reason for decades. That’s why he had to quit the modern Trump Party.
There was a sense of propriety, of not slipping down the gutter. Now in the GOP there is a race for this.
Money is vital to keeping newspapers alive, so let’s see how far The Winner Advocate is ready to go. If people order ads with all kinds of rude comments, barely disguised or not, will they be published?
If someone wants to order an ad that says F # * @ Trump, will it be published? What about other announcements? Can overtly sexual, racist or other advertisements be placed in the weekly?
Or do they only publish those who convey a childish insult directed at the President of the United States? Hopefully not.
We are going through a particularly stupid time in American politics, with Trump as the driving force. He has unleashed the schoolyard tyrant among many of his followers, and since most are entirely incapable of intelligent speech, they stoop to taunts and insults.
The best answer is to do what President Biden did. Let it bounce off you and move on. It would help if newspapers, even those that are so short of a few dollars to lower all standards, do not publish such garbage.
What about you, Charley and Norma Najacht? Is this really how you want to become famous?
Want to comment on this extremely inappropriate ad or place your own ad? Send an email to the contact details published on the Winner Advocate website: email@example.com or call 605-842-1481.
Tom Lawrence has written for several South Dakota and other state newspapers and websites and has contributed to NPR, The London Telegraph, The Daily Beast, and other media.