The Atlantic Pulls Online Scientology Advertorial, Apologizes

The Wall Street Journal/January 15, 2013

The Atlantic has pulled a Scientology advertorial from after mounting criticism from various online outlets, and has now apologized for publishing the content. The post, which went up on Monday, was labeled "sponsored content" and took a look at milestones for the group over the last 12 months.

In a statement, the Atlantic said "We screwed up. It shouldn't have taken a wave of constructive criticism - but it has - to alert us that we've made a mistake, possibly several mistakes. We now realize that as we explored new forms of digital advertising, we failed to update the policies that must govern the decisions we make along the way. It's safe to say that we are thinking a lot more about these policies after running this ad than we did beforehand. In the meantime, we have decided to withdraw the ad until we figure all of this out. We remain committed to and enthusiastic about innovation in digital advertising, but acknowledge-sheepishly-that we got ahead of ourselves. We are sorry, and we're working very hard to put things right."

The advertorial had been slammed as propaganda by such sites as Gawker and Salon. Initially after pulling the content, the Atlantic had put up this online message: "We have temporarily suspended this advertising campaign pending a review of our policies that govern sponsor content and subsequent comment threads."

The controversy comes as "Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief," a new book by Lawrence Wright (the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of "The Looming Tower"), prepares to hit bookstores on Thursday, Jan. 17.

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