State Department explains blog post critics said promoted Mar-a-Lago

PHOTO: The Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida,November 27, 2016. REUTERS
The Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida,November 27, 2016.

The Department of State provided explanation Tuesday for a story posted on one of its blogs that critics said promoted the Mar-a-Lago estate owned by President Donald Trump.

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State Department deputy spokesperson Mark Toner said that no one was ordered to write the article posted to ShareAmerica, a State Department blog that creates content for embassies and consulates overseas.

He added that it was “researched and written by staff members of the International Information Programs bureau” and it “was not reviewed at the time it was sent out” by anyone outside the IIP, as is generally the case.

Toner said that the post, which described the exclusive club's use as the president's vacation home as a "dreams-come-true" story for the mansion's original builder, socialite and heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post, was “meant to provide historical information and context relevant to the conduct of U.S. diplomacy and was not intended to endorse or promote any private enterprise.”

He noted that “in light of some of the feedback we were getting about some of the article’s purpose, or rather, misperceptions about its purpose,” the story was removed. Prior to its removal, it was also featured on the website of at least one U.S. embassy -- the mission in the United Kingdom.

“This was in-house completely. This was a decision made by the content creators, the writers of the International information Program, IIP, and that is their mandate," said Toner. "In retrospect, we made the decision to pull this article down because there was some confusion about its intent, but their mandate, if you will, is to create content that educates foreign audiences about significant landmarks, etc., in the United States."

Moving forward, Toner said that the State Department will consider whether any additional review of IIP content is needed before it’s posted. In ShareAmerica’s two-year history, they could not find a similar case where a privately or publicly owned property was promoted, he said.