Trump assails NYT for changing headline on his mass shooting message

Dylan Stableford
Senior Editor

Hours before departing the White House to visit with mass shootings victims in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas, President Trump on Wednesday weighed in on the decision by the New York Times to change the headline of its front-page story about his statement on the massacres in the two cities.

The Times’ initial headline on the story was “Trump Urges Unity Vs. Racism,” and it drew swift backlash from critics who noted that the suspected El Paso shooter espoused some of Trump’s rhetoric and the president’s inflammatory racial statements. The headline on the paper’s second edition was changed to “Assailing Hate But Not Guns.”

Trump decried that change.

On Saturday morning, a gunman killed 22 people and injured more than two dozen others at a Walmart in El Paso. Just 13 hours later, another gunman killed nine people and wounded dozens more in downtown Dayton. The El Paso shooting is being investigated as a possible hate crime. Officials say the suspect posted a manifesto that mimicked some of Trump’s anti-immigration rhetoric.

In his first formal statement on the killings, delivered via teleprompter Monday, Trump condemned “racism, bigotry and white supremacy” while blaming the internet, video games and “mental illness” for the massacres. He also called for the nation to put aside partisan bickering. He did not, however, mention gun control.

Several prominent Democrats, including Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Beto O’Rourke and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, called out the Times for failing to capture the proper skepticism and context surrounding Trump’s message. Others threatened to cancel their subscriptions.

“Let this front page serve as a reminder of how white supremacy is aided by — and often relies upon — the cowardice of mainstream institutions,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted.

“Lives literally depend on you doing better, NYT,” Booker wrote. “Please do.”

Amid the backlash, the paper changed the headline for its late edition.

“The original headline was flawed and was changed for all editions of the paper following the first edition,” Times spokeswoman Danielle Rhoades Ha said in a statement, noting that the “headline in question never appeared online, only in the first print edition.”

Dean Baquet, the paper’s executive editor, defended the decision in a subsequent interview with the Daily Beast.

“We all saw it was a bad headline and changed it pretty quickly,” Baquet said.

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