- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 17, 2016

PBS is responding to backlash after it featured a Donald Trump campaign volunteer with tattooed symbols on her body that several news outlets have claimed belong to a neo-Nazi movement.

A story on the network about the Tillys, a North Carolina family who supports Mr. Trump for president, featured footage of 33-year-old Grace Tilly doing volunteer work for the GOP front-runner. Liberal website Gawker was the first to report that Ms. Tilly had “large white power tattoos on each of her hands.” The PBS story never mentioned Ms. Tilly’s tattoos, as many commenters pointed out.

Ms. Tilly has the Celtic Cross tattooed on her right hand, which the Anti-Defamation League said is among the most “commonly used white supremacist symbols,” Gawker reported. On her left, Ms. Tilly bore the number 88, “white supremacist numerical code for ‘Heil Hitler,’ ” according to the Anti-Defamation League’s website, The Washington Post reported.

PBS has since added an editor’s note to the Tilly story and edited the headline “to more accurately represent the video segment.”

The headline that used to read, “Tar Heel family illustrates why Trump appeals to the South” now says, “Tar Heel family explains why they support Trump.”

“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,” PBS said. “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.”

Ms. Tilly defended herself against critics in the PBS comments section.

“My tattoo is and will always be taken way out of context and I wouldn’t expect close minded individuals to understand why I put that tattoo on my hand where everyone can see it,” she wrote. “It is Odin’s eye and means protection to me and it is religious, it is not my fault that certain people use it in a negative manner and for the wrong reasons. You should quit quoting the first thing that pops up on Google and reeducate yourself before you go on blabbering about something that you actually don’t have an effing clue about.”

In another comment, she wrote, “Look up odins eye and then talk to me …. ignorant people have attached their group to a symbol that has a far more important meaning to it than most could ever understand. I’m not defending my tattoos because i don’t owe any of you [expletive] — I just don’t like being polished into a category I don’t belong in.”

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