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NEW: Jewish Lakewood Woman Targeted In Asbury Park Press Racist Photo Caption Sues Paper, Others

The Frum Lakewood woman whose photo was published last year on the Asbury Park Press website alongside a caption considered by many to be racist and misogynistic, has filed a defamation lawsuit against the paper, Gustavo Martinez – the reporter who took the photo, the paper’s parent company Gannett and several editors who are employed at the paper, TLS has learned.

The lawsuit, which was filed in New Jersey Superior Court, is accusing the 6 defendants of defamation and economic damages, which the plaintiff says was due to the negative publicity resulting from the story.

The lawsuit also claims that the “false and defamatory statements” were made with “the intent to destroy plaintiff[s] professional reputation and career.”

Also mentioned is the “extreme mental anguish, anxiety and distress,” which she suffers from as a “direct and proximate result of the defendants conduct.”

The woman, who was employed as a nurse at CHEMED at the time, is seeking compensatory and punitive damages, as well as legal fees to cover the costs of the lawsuit, to be determined by the court during trial.

CHEMED is not named in the lawsuit.

The offensive article was first published following a visit by Governor Phil Murphy to CHEMED’s vaccine facility in March, 2021 during which the nurse was photographed by the APP reporter covering the governor’s visit.

The photo, which was posted on the APP’s website went unnoticed until The New Jersey Globe website published a story highlighting the photo and caption.

The story raised an immediate outcry from officials, who demanded an explanation from the APP over the caption.

Governor Murphy’s press secretary, Alyana Alfaro Post, tweeted Governor Murphy’s resentment of the caption, writing, “The @AsburyParkPress @Gannett photo caption was unacceptable, and taking it down without adequate explanation is not enough. We need answers about how and why this happened, and why such crude, misogynistic, and anti-Semitic language was published.”

At his Covid-19 press conference the next day, Governor Murphy slammed the caption, saying, “I frankly didn’t believe it. I read it with my own eyes; it’s unfathomable someone wrote that even privately. Someone has to pay, someone has to pay a price for that. It’s incredibly offensive – even the apology missed the point. Completely utterly unacceptable, offensive on many levels. I can’t believe in this day and age we get something like this written in someone’s diary, let alone online.”

The executive editor of the APP, Paul D’Ambrosio posted an apology several days later, but failed to provide a clear explanation of how the photo with the caption was ever posted, or what actions had been taken, or will be taken in the future, to ensure that a similar incident will not happen again. It also did not say whether the reporter, Gustavo Martinez, was responsible for the caption.

“Late on March 20, a photo ran on APP.com with an unapproved and offensive caption. The photo was removed March 21 as soon as it was brought to our attention. As executive editor of the Asbury Park Press, I apologize deeply to women, the Lakewood Jewish community, the Asian American community and all our readers,” the apology stated. “The words in the caption were totally unacceptable and in no way reflect the principles and practices of the staff of the Press and Gannett. The Press and Gannett have a long history of fighting for inclusiveness, diversity and women’s rights. We took immediate and significant action once we became aware of the issue, and we changed our online procedures to ensure such an event never happens again.”

The reporter was fired the next day.

The story also resulted in two governing bodies, the Lakewood Township and the Lakewood Board of Education, to cut ties with the paper.

Lakewood Board of Education attorney Michael Inzelbuch slammed the apology at the time, saying the APP had not done nearly enough for it to be accepted, and moreover, that it fit into the slanted APP reporting that the publication has engaged in for years.

“It is not for me, nor anyone individually, to accept your apology,” Inzelbuch wrote back. “Moreover, no one should, or can  accept your apology for numerous reasons,” he added, followed by a list of 9 detailed complaints.

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There are 3 Comments to "NEW: Jewish Lakewood Woman Targeted In Asbury Park Press Racist Photo Caption Sues Paper, Others"

  • Casey says:

    I hope she wins.

    APP was so out of touch with their apology that they apologized to the Asian community, not realizing the “slur” was against Jewish women, not Asians.

  • Mutty says:

    Unlike Jewish publications which are flourishing as a result of 7 million readers on shabbos; The APP as well as most other secular publications had fallen victim to online; I’m surprised they’re still around. In this case they figured they had become so small that they have nothing more to loose, thus they can now have a good time by slandering and writing whatever they want.

  • Moshe says:

    The APP showed themselves to be crass and uncivilized. But the only damage to anyone’s reputation was to the APP’s reputation. Their comments do not make the nurse look bad at all.

    The first amendment allows someone the right to be a bigoted chauvinist.

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