Nearly 24 hours after it yanked a controversial piece of sponsored content praising Scientology from its website, the Atlantic apologized on Tuesday, admitting in a statement “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,” the statement read. “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 sponsored content, a form of advertising that is skyrocketing in popularity on media websites, was titled “David Miscavige Leads Scientology to Milestone Year” and praised accomplishments of the controversial religion in 2012. After being mocked by everyone from the Atlantic’s own writers to other media critics, the post was quickly taken down.
The Atlantic, of course, isn’t the only publication to infuriate readers with sponsored content. PepsiCo, for example, created a kerfuffle when that company sponsored a nutrition blog in 2010.