Newspaper apologizes after NJ congressman gets nasty death, rape threats
A South Jersey newspaper publisher has apologized for running a vitriolic opinion piece from a writer accused of making threats against a Republican congressman.
U.S. Rep. Jeff Van Drew, R-N.J. 2nd District, held a news conference Monday with Cape May County Sheriff Bob Nolan in which he released a voice mail left by Ocean City resident John McCall.
“I would swear to your demise as a politician and I believe that you personally are a degenerate. As a member of the New Jersey Press Association, I will do everything in my power to ensure that you are deposed if not dead," the message recording says. "Anything I can do to basically get you out of office, I will do. You are a traitors. Jeff Van Drew and you deserve the fate of all traitors.”
In response to New Jersey 101.5, the New Jersey Press Association said Monday that "John McCall is not and has never been a member of NJPA, as the Association does not have individual journalist members."
McCall could not be reached for comment on Monday.
McCall wrote in an opinion published by the Ocean City Sentinel on March 10 about a visit from Ocean City police regarding the message.
"My act was instigated by his own countless intrusions into our home by email and phone touting the anti-American agenda of his fellow Republican extremists and the disgraced, deposed traitor Donald Trump...Now he claims to be scared s**tless when the incendiary language of his mentor is turned against him," McCall wrote.
Referring to video of Trump on "Access Hollywood" in 2005 talking about grabbing a woman in her privates that surfaced during the 2016 campaign, McCall discussed whether Van Drew's wife should get the same treatment.
"Van Drew’s mentor has said it’s cool to greet women by grabbing them between the legs. Should we test the acceptability of this remark and get the direct response of a prominent GOP female by greeting Van Drew’s wife with the Republican high-five, lifting her over the hood of her car and objectively recording her physical reaction to the tickle when she lands?”
McCall went on to say that Van Drew, who he called "mini Trump," has forfeited his right to protection because he is a traitor.
"Know this V.D.: It doesn’t stop here... God save you," McCall wrote.
Van Drew called for the Sentinel and the Press Association to denounce McCall, condemn the threats, retract the editorials and issue a public apology.
"Until then any and all legal options remain on the table," Van Drew said Monday.
After the news conference, Sentinel editor and publisher David Nahan apologized for publishing the column but did not agree to take it down. He said McCall is guest columnist and is not a paid for his work.
"Because you felt threatened and felt your wife was threatened, I am sorry. There are no two ways about that. I blame that on my judgment. I knew in advance that the guest column was vitriolic and highly critical of you and your support for the former president. The way it was written, I do not believe it contains any threats of harm because if I did, I would not have allowed it to appear in my newspaper," Nahan said in a written statement.
Nahan said that he has called for readers and writers to "tone down the political anger," which he believes is dividing the country — and failed to follow his own advice with the opinion piece.
The newspaper also covered Van Drew's conference on Monday.
Nolan, an elected official and a Republican, said it is his duty to protect all who work in, live in or visit Cape May County.
"Congressman Van Drew didn’t offer himself or his family up for public service to be a target of threats or violence by anyone, let alone a newspaper columnist. The Cape May County Sheriff’s Office takes all threats seriously and political violence of any kind will not be tolerated," Nolan said.
Van Drew switched from the Democratic to Republican party in December 2019 at the invitation of Trump who made a campaign appearance in Wildwood in January 2020. He was among the Republicans in Congress who voted against certifying President Joe Biden's election results.