Although the Trib's op-ed page is notoriously conservative, opponents of the measure said the editorial went over the line with certain language that was full of mischaracterizations.
One line in the piece referred to opponents of the measure as "the pro-abortion crowd."
"No group advocating against Amendment 6 is a 'pro-abortion' group," Ayele Hunt clarified. She's the
executive director of I Am Choice, the leading statewide group opposed to the measure.
Hunt and six others gathered on Tuesday morning outside the Tribune building on Parker Street in Tampa to lambaste the piece. They emphasized that the editorial board was free to endorse or oppose any measure it wished, but Hunt called the "pro-abortion" phrase a "drastic misrepresentation of what we're fighting for" and an attempt to undermine their opposition.
That's not the only phrase that offended critics of the editorial.
Amanda Sibey criticized the first sentence of the piece, which calls abortion a "deadly practice" that millions of Americans find "immoral." She said those words "demonize women who may be victims of violent sexual assault or patients facing life-threatening illnesses."
Hunt said one of the reasons the editorial argues for a yes vote is that it will lead to parental consent for girls who want an abortion. She said that's inaccurate.
"Amendment 6 does not lead directly to parental consent. There's nothing in the amendment about parental consent. Essentially the amendment just talks about public funds and the privacy aspect of the bill," Hunt added.
Susan Smith, president of the Democratic Progressive Caucus of Florida, asked, "How does a failing newspaper write its own obituary? Like this." She then held up a printed copy of the editorial.
Her "failing newspaper" reference is a nod to the financial difficulties the Tribune has had in recent years. Last week, a media company created by a private-equity firm purchased the paper for $9.5 million.
Smith said it's difficult to live in Florida where women's health and welfare are always on the chopping block.
"It’s really difficult to live in a state where a big-city newspaper like the Tampa Tribune thinks you're a second-class citizen because you have a uterus," she said.
She added that the paper was "piling on" by joining GOP officials in the "war on women."
Hunt said her group reached out to speak with Tribune officials, but hadn't heard back, and she understood how it might not be a priority with the general election three weeks away. But she said I Am Choice would still like that opportunity.
Joe Guidry, the paper's opinion editor, was unavailable for comment, as he is out of town all week.
Another member of the editorial board, Jim Beamgard, spoke briefly with CL this afternoon. He said the paper stood by the piece, but would be happy to meet with I Am Choice officials at some point in the future. He added that Guidry was the best person to talk to about the specifics of the piece.
This Saturday, I Am Choice will host a get-out-the-vote effort at Jannus Live in St. Petersburg. The event will feature feminist icon Gloria Steinem as well as local Democrats Kathy Castor and Rick Kriseman.