PBS got busted by Gawker on Wednesday afternoon: A story on the network about a North Carolina family — the Tillys — featured video of 33-year-old Grace Tilly doing volunteer work for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump — complete with what Gawker called “large white power tattoos on each of her hands.” The story never mentions those tattoos.
On her right hand, Tilly bore the Celtic Cross, among the most “commonly used white supremacist symbols,” according to an Anti-Defamation League official consulted by Gawker. On her left, Tilly bore the number 88, “white supremacist numerical code for ‘Heil Hitler,’ ” according to the Anti-Defamation League’s website.
Grace Tilly has obvious Aryan Nation/White Supremacist beliefs (the Iron Cross/White Power Bullseye tattoo on her right hand and the “88” Hiel Hitler tattoo on her left hand), plain for all to see. Why was no mention made of this? Are your reporters really that thick? This story should’ve had the headline “Aryan Nation members Support Trump” – how’d you miss this one, PBS? BIG apology due to your audience for giving these neanderthals any screen time at all without exposing them for who they knowingly and admittingly are, obvious to all. Had your reporter confronted them it would’ve been very difficult for them to deny.
You are full of S””’. You don’t no what you’re talking about. The 88 is for Dale Earnhardt Jr. that’s his car #. The cross is the Celtic Cross. It has nothing to do with the Aryan Nation. You’re the epitome of the low information voter!
PBS has slapped an editor’s note on the story to address the issues:
Editor’s Note: At several times during this campaign the NewsHour has featured video packages of voices of voters, profiling different families and their views on the candidates and how they have arrived at them. These reports have been presented without reporters’ narration. It is true that this storytelling style requires the audience to draw its own conclusions about what they see and hear, but we believe the audience is able to do so.
In this case, a debate about Grace Tilly’s tattoos has started online. As you can see in the comments section posted with this story, Ms. Tilly argues that these tattoos are not representative of neo-Nazi positions but are connected to her family’s Celtic religious beliefs. That is what she told our producers as well. Others among our online commenters vehemently disagree.
The headline on this transcript has been updated to more accurately represent the video segment.
That headline now reads: “Tar Heel family explains why they support Trump”
A previous version read: “Tar Heel family illustrates why Trump appeals to the South”
To the point about the absence of reportorial narration in the story: That’s true, but the statements of the Tillys in the story are clearly responding to questions from PBS. Why not just include a response to the question: “What’s up with your tattoos?”
More to come on this story.