Embedded in the article was a drawing showing Dan Sickles, a 19th-century lawmaker in New York, killing Philip Barton Key after Key allegedly had an affair with Sickles’s wife.
The image is embedded inside the article but was used as the featured image in some social media posts, including one from the paper that was later deleted.
The four op-ed writers, including George Conway and Rick Wilson, said that they were reminded of Sickles when considering Trump’s actions.
“Sickles’s greatest previous achievement had been fatally shooting his wife’s lover across the street from the White House and getting himself elected to Congress. Even his most fervent admirers could not have imagined that one day, far in the future, another incompetent New York politician, a president, would lay claim to that legacy by saying he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and get away with it,” they wrote.
Wow. The graphic accompanying the social media preview of this NYT op-ed is definitely going to get some attention. 😳 pic.twitter.com/eWf7pa57HE
— Nathan Kalmoe (@NathanKalmoe) December 17, 2019
The paper has come under fire before for seeming to encourage violence against Trump. It published an assassination fantasy in October 2018 that featured a writer imagining a Secret Service agent helping a Russian agent kill Trump. And a play that featured a mock assassination of a Trump lookalike was held in 2017 by a group sponsored in part by the paper.
Criticism of the paper’s latest choice erupted on social media and even permeated the article’s comment section.
“What is up with this picture!??!?! I remember when The New York Times wrote a 17 paragraph article about a violent meme that played in an empty ballroom at a Trump property and now they are openly encouraging violence against the president and his supporters,” wrote one Twitter user.
“Having read the whole article, it seems they have such personal animus to the president they will do anything to hurt him. The Sickles reference, with backstory, seems somewhat off track,” wrote another.
At least one reader commenting on the article on the paper’s website seemed to take the photograph to apply directly to Trump, while multiple readers added to criticism.
“Look at that drawing! Doesn’t that encapsulate the GOP efforts to protect Trump and their party? The victim is on the ground, begging for his life. Today, in this administration, we are all on the ground, begging for our lives. Trump’s followers have the guns. Today, after the latest Trump rally, is there any doubt they are ready to pull their triggers?” one reader wrote.
Another added: “How far and long did the writers have to go to inject Sickles into their attack for sole purpose of showing the drawing of the shooting? Disgusting, printing that along with any president’s name. Shame.”
And another said: “Isn’t there a DIFFERENCE between actually shooting someone and SAYING that he could shoot someone? Or did you not notice it?”