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Tweet using image of slain journalist has burger chain, media firm apologizing

Staff Report
July 25. 2018 9:03AM
American photojournalist James Foley of Rochester. 

By KIMBERLEY HAAS Union Leader Correspondent ROCHESTER — The owner of a hamburger chain that featured slain journalist James Foley’s image for an advertisement on Twitter has taken responsibility for the post and says he intends to apologize to the family.

Peter Tabibian started Z-Burger in the Washington, D.C., metro area 10 years ago and said Wednesday he is so busy he decided to hire Valor Media, a North Carolina-based group, to handle social media campaigns a few months ago.

That backfired when an art director created an offensive ad using a photo of Foley taken moments before he was beheaded by ISIS in August 2014.

It said, “When you say you want a burger and someone says okay let’s hit McDonald’s.”

Underneath Foley’s image was the message, “You disgrace me.”

The ad has been removed from Twitter, but Tabibian said he has received a lot of backlash about it in recent days. He said his heart broke when he received a call from a woman who went to high school with Foley.

“I really feel bad about what happened,” Tabibian said. “There should have been a better filter in place.”

Tabibian said he did not see or approve the Tweet before it was posted. He has fired Valor Media, which is owned by 23-year-old Michael Valor.

Tabibian said he emigrated from Iran and tries to be a community-focused business leader.

Diane Foley of Rochester said Wednesday afternoon that she had not yet heard from Tabibian.

“We did have a very apologetic phone call from Michael Valor,” Foley said.

Foley is hoping both men will be inspired to support the James W. Foley Legacy Foundation, which advocates for the safe return of all Americans hostages detained abroad, to protect independent conflict journalists and to educate people about threats to freedom.

The foundation hosts a 5K run and walk in Rochester every fall to raise money.

“I am very saddened that @Zburger would be so insensitive and ignorant of others’ pain while marketing their hamburger,” Foley tweeted on behalf of the foundation Tuesday night.

Scroll down for Diane Foley's Tweet, and the responses from Tabibian and Valor: 

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