After NY Times Changes Headline Under Pressure From Activists, Trump Weighs In

August 7, 2019 Updated: August 7, 2019

President Donald Trump chimed in on the New York Times headline drama, saying the paper had changed its front-page headline for a story about his statement about the recent mass shootings “after the Radical Left Democrats went absolutely CRAZY!”

The original New York Times above-the-fold headline read “Trump Urges Unity vs. Racism.”

The headline set off leftist activists and reporters—including 538 founder Nate Silver, former Texas. Rep Beto O’Rourke, and former Hillary Clinton adviser Brian Fallon—who exploded on social media and demanded the paper change the headline.

“Lives literally depend on you doing better, NYT. Please do,” wrote Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) in a reaction on Twitter.

The paper later changed the headline to “Assailing Hate But Not Guns.”

The new headline didn’t satisfy many critics. One, Rolling Stone writer Jamil Smith, said that “the new hed stinks, too.”

Dean Baquet, the paper’s executive editor, said that his paper folded on the headline because it was “bad.”

“It was written on deadline and when it was passed along for approval we all saw it was a bad headline and changed it pretty quickly,” Baquet wrote in a text message to the Daily Beast.

“I understand the concern people have. Headlines matter. But I hope they read the coverage, which I will argue was strong,” he added.

A spokesperson for the paper added, “The original print headline was clearly flawed and was changed for all editions after the first.”

Trump weighed in on the controversy on Tuesday, writing: “‘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.”

The president then quoted Mark Penn, a former adviser to Bill Clinton, who during an appearance on Fox News late Tuesday said, “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!”

“After 3 years I almost got a good headline from the Times!” Trump lamented.

A similar situation took place last year with the Washington Post, which had a headline for a story about Trump’s State of the Union that read: “A call for bipartisanship.”

After complaints, the paper changed it to “A ‘new American moment.'” The paper also changed a smaller headline above the fold to “Trump delivers message of unity” to “Trump adopts gentler approach.”

Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber
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