Target Received Bomb Threats From the 'LGBTQ+ Community.' The Media Told a Different Story.

A Target Pride Month collection (Wikimedia Commons, credit: Another Believer)
June 14, 2023

Target stores across America were evacuated over the weekend due to bomb threats that alleged the chain had "betrayed the LGBTQ+ community" and "bowed to the wishes of far-right extremists who want to exterminate us," according to police. But that's not how some major news outlets presented the story.

The Washington PostUSA Today, and others buried or simply left out the nature of the emailed threats, all of which were false alarms, while prominently mentioning conservative backlash over Target's LGBT Pride merchandise. Who wrote it worst?

Washington Post: "Target stores see more bomb threats over Pride merchandise":

Target stores in at least five states were evacuated this weekend after receiving bomb threats. Though no explosives were discovered, the incidents tie into the backlash over the retail chain's Pride Month merchandise. …

Target weeks earlier announced that it would pull back its merchandise for Pride Month after threats over this year's collection.

The first mention of the email comes in Paragraph 8: "News outlets in Vermont, New Hampshire, and New York received the same threatening email Saturday, according to South Burlington police chief Shawn Burke. The message, which accused Target of betraying the LGBTQ+ community, named a store in South Burlington, Vt., and ones in Plattsburgh, N.Y., and in Keene and West Lebanon, N.H."

The Hill: "Target stores in at least five states receive bomb threats over Pride items":

Target stores in at least five U.S. states had to be evacuated over the weekend after receiving bomb threats, the latest example of backlash the U.S.-based retail chain has received for its Pride month merchandise.

The first mention of the email comes in Paragraph 6: "South Burlington (Vt.) police chief Shawn Burke said news outlets in Vermont, New Hampshire, and New York all received the same emailed threat to Target stores over the weekend. It accused the retail chain of betraying the LGBTQ+ community and named the locations of four stores in the three states, including the South Burlington location."

Newsweek: "Target Stores Receive Bomb Threats Amid Pride Backlash":

Target has faced protests, boycott calls, and threats to its workers and customers over its LGBTQ+ collection for Pride Month. Target announced last month that it would remove some items from its stores and make other changes to its LGBTQ+ merchandise nationwide after some customers confronted workers and tipped over displays. Last month, Target stores in Ohio, Utah, and Pennsylvania received bomb threats.

It comes at a time when conflict over LGBTQ+ rights is simmering, with nearly 500 anti-LGBTQ+ bills introduced in state legislatures around the U.S. this year. Other brands that have faced boycott calls for their Pride Month marketing and promotional campaigns include Bud Light and its parent company, Anheuser-Busch, The North Face, Nike, and Kohl's.

The email is never mentioned.

USA Today: "Several Target stores in Oklahoma City metro briefly evacuated after bomb threat":

Several Target locations in the Oklahoma City metro area were briefly evacuated Saturday afternoon after media outlets received what police described as "vague bomb" threats, police said. The threats come as the retail chain faces backlash over its Pride Month merchandise. …

Target is among corporate brands that have come under fire from right-wing groups for supporting the LGBTQ+ community. Target stores in Utah, Ohio, and Pennsylvania have also received bomb threats in recent weeks.

After critics posted videos of attacking LGBTQ+ Pride displays and confronting employees in Target stores in late May, the company held an emergency meeting and decided to remove or relocate some Pride merchandise to make them less visible in stores.

The email is never mentioned.

Law enforcement has yet to identify any suspects. But if the emails prove sincere, it wouldn't be the first time the media spun a story of violence committed in the name of LGBT rights into one of LGBT victimization.