Donald Trump criticized The New York Times on Wednesday for its decision to change a headline about his response to the shootings in El Paso and Dayton. According to Fox News, the president used a familiar attack to call out the “failing” news outlet as “fake news” after it changed a story from one that read “Trump Urges Unity Vs. Racism” to “Assailing Hate But Not Guns.”
“‘Trump Urges Unity Vs. Racism,’ was the correct description in the first headline by the Failing New York Times, but it was quickly changed to, ‘Assailing Hate But Not Guns,’ after the Radical Left Democrats went absolutely CRAZY! Fake News – That’s what we’re up against,” Trump tweeted.
“‘This is an astounding development in journalism. I’ve never seen it happen before, I’ve just never seen anything like this! Is that journalism today? I don’t think so!’ Mark Penn, Former Clinton Advisor. @TuckerCarlson,” he added in a second tweet. “After 3 years I almost got a good headline from the Times!”
The original headline was denounced by Democrats who felt the title didn’t accurately “contextualize” the president’s tone, according to a piece from The New York Times editors explaining their decision to change the article title.
The headline originally gained attention after FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver posted it on Twitter. From there, it quickly snowballed, with several 2020 presidential hopefuls and prominent Democrats picking up the thread.
Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez led the charge with a tweet criticizing the title.
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
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand also took issue with the headline, tweeting “That’s not what happened.”
Beto O’Rourke had a one-word response that summed up his feelings.
— Beto O'Rourke (@BetoORourke) August 6, 2019
The New York Times said that the editors recognized the headline wasn’t ideal and made the decision to change it in later additions. They claimed that the shift wasn’t the result of criticism from Democrats, but a decision by the editors after an ongoing conversation.
The article focused on a speech by the president who, reading from a teleprompter, urged the country to put aside partisanship and to condemn racism and white supremacy. This message was a shift from Trump’s frequently divisive, fiery rhetoric, which is often aimed at immigrants and minorities.
The president failed to mention new gun legislation in his speech, something that critics felt was an important missing element. Critics also said that the title lacked context, given the headline seemed to prop up Trump as someone who was attempting to unify the country and not divide it, as they believe some of his rhetoric in the past has done.