The New York Times was forced to alter its front page headline after it was savaged online by high-profile Democrats who didn’t like how the paper framed President Donald Trump’s speech about mass shootings.
The US newspaper got into trouble after print editor Tom Jolly shared a preview of Tuesday’s front page. The headline on the story about the aftermath of the deadly mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio was ‘Trump urges unity vs. racism.’ Its sub-headline read as ‘Condemns ‘slaughters,’ but says little of gun control.’
One of the first to take issue with NYT’s headline was popular polling expert Nate Silver. “Not sure ‘TRUMP URGES UNITY VS. RACISM’ is how I would have framed the story,” he wrote. Silver’s tweet, which quickly went viral, got more than 20,000 ‘likes’ and was shared 3,600 times.
Many slammed the headline as inappropriate; some users on social media claimed they had cancelled their subscriptions to the paper because of the way it handled the story. Several of the Democratic Party’s candidates for the 2020 presidential election also jumped in to bash the Times.
Some Democrats and left-leaning pundits have been insisting that Trump’s rhetoric emboldens shooters to commit massacres like the one in El Paso, where the suspect allegedly published an anti-immigrant manifesto. One such view was put forward by Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who also had harsh words for the NYT. The paper’s front page serves as “a reminder of how white supremacy is aided by – and often relies upon – the cowardice of mainstream institutions.”
The intense backlash prompted the New York Times to roll out an updated version of the front page, with the headline changed to ‘Assailing hate but not guns’ and sub-headline changed to ‘Trump, in speech, says little on curbing weapons.’
The original headline “was bad,” the paper’s spokesperson told the Washington Post.
The change did not stop the criticism, however, as some still believed the NYT did not do the story justice. “That’s just as bad and makes less sense,” one person said. Another argued that the new headline was “still trash” and the newspaper needs to be “better than this.”