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The New York Times changed its front-page headline about President Donald Trump’s speech condemning white supremacy following a liberal outcry and threats to cancel subscriptions.
The paper tweeted out its early-edition headline about Trump’s address Monday in the wake of two mass shootings—one of which was motivated by a hatred for immigrants—reading “Trump Urges Unity Vs. Racism.” Trump told the nation, “In one voice, our nation must condemn racism, bigotry, and white supremacy. These sinister ideologies must be defeated.”
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After progressives fumed, the newspaper changed the headline to “Assailing Hate But Not Guns” to frame the story more negatively around Trump resisting gun control.
“Not sure TRUMP URGES UNITY VS. RACISM is how I would have framed the story,” FiveThirtyEight‘s Nate Silver wrote on Twitter on Monday night.
Tomorrow’s NYT print edition.
Not sure “TRUMP URGES UNITY VS. RACISM” is how I would have framed the story. pic.twitter.com/quOibXsp32
— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) August 6, 2019
Other prominent liberals expressed outrage over the initial headline, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.) and presidential candidates Beto O’Rourke, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D., N.Y.) and Sen. Cory Booker (D., N.J.).
Some, like The Nation‘s Joan Walsh and former Harry Reid staffer Adam Jentleson, even said they were canceling their subscriptions to the Paper of Record, saying the reporting was irresponsible and whitewashed Trump’s record of inflammatory rhetoric.
Let this front page serve as a reminder of how white supremacy is aided by – and often relies upon – the cowardice of mainstream institutions. https://t.co/ynjgtT66yI
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) August 6, 2019
— Beto O’Rourke (@BetoORourke) August 6, 2019
Lives literally depend on you doing better, NYT. Please do. https://t.co/L4CpCb8zLi
— Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) August 6, 2019
That’s not what happened. https://t.co/m6eIZOARcZ
— Kirsten Gillibrand (@SenGillibrand) August 6, 2019
Hey, @nytimes — what happened to “The Truth Is Worth It?”
Not the truth.
Not worth it. pic.twitter.com/N5tMTEoLln
— Bill de Blasio (@BilldeBlasio) August 6, 2019
I resisted for a long time but I’m cancelling my NYT subscription today. Great reporters but terrible editorial judgment on headlines and social media, which is all most people read. It can’t be the paper of record anymore if it doesn’t accurately report the news.
— Adam Jentleson 🎈🐢 (@AJentleson) August 6, 2019
NYT can be an insular institution, particularly when it comes under criticism. But I have never received more texts from furious NYT reporters/writers than I have tonight. They feel like their hard work is being sullied by a horrible headline. And they’re all blaming Dean Baquet https://t.co/orhSFjxHtI
— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) August 6, 2019
Members of the press, what the fuck indeed. pic.twitter.com/rSff8KrivY
— Jordan Weissmann (@JHWeissmann) August 6, 2019
At some point, when Trump is all over, the people currently running the New York Times will fan out across the journalism landscape, arguing that they did the “best they could.” Many will allow them their dignity.
I doubt many black and brown voices will be among them. https://t.co/9xIiTGT7K1
— Elie Mystal (@ElieNYC) August 6, 2019
I canceled my subscription. I know a lot of folks will tell me I’m wrong. I will miss it. But I can’t keep rewarding such awful news judgment. “Trump Urges Unity Against Racism” is almost as bad as their full-page Comey letter coverage just before 2016 election. Nobody learns. https://t.co/FNUyXN9TmB
— Joan Walsh (@joanwalsh) August 6, 2019
As I said before, it’s like Memento with Trump and some large swathes of the press. https://t.co/Hw4vzn61X5
— Matthew Yglesias (@mattyglesias) August 6, 2019
A Times spokesman told the Washington Post, “The headline was bad and has been changed for the second edition.”
New York Times releases a second edition with a different headline after Twitter backlash and liberals announce they’re canceling subscriptions. pic.twitter.com/fxLav5pQHP
— Matt Whitlock (@mattdizwhitlock) August 6, 2019
Conservatives mocked the newspaper for succumbing to pressure over the headline.
It’s not the first time liberal Times readers have canceled—or threatened to cancel–their subscriptions over what they view as unacceptable coverage. In 2017, another wave of outrage and threats to cancel subscription erupted when newly hired columnist Bret Stephens published a lightly skeptical piece about climate change.
David Rutz is managing editor of the Washington Free Beacon. He was previously a sports reporter for two years in Atlanta and has done freelance sports reporting for the Washington Post. He graduated from Vanderbilt University in 2010 and lives in Marietta, Ga. His Twitter handle is @DavidRutz.
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