As the United States reels from multiple mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio resulting in 31 dead Americans, various outlets are grappling with how best to cover such horrific developments.
In the case of El Paso, the shooter was radicalized by white supremacists on the social network 8chan. His manifesto uses similar rhetoric to that used by President Donald Trump, like referring to Mexican immigration as an "invasion."
Trump denounced white supremacy in a speech addressing the incidents, but for many, the damage was already done and his rhetoric was largely to blame.
That's why some readers weren't satisfied with coverage of the developments on Tuesday morning's New York Times. The particular point of complaint was the paper's headline:
Tomorrow's NYT print edition. Not sure "TRUMP URGES UNITY VS. RACISM" is how I would have framed the story. https://t.co/quOibXsp32— Nate Silver (@Nate Silver)1565054007.0
Many found it laughable that Trump reading generic condolences from a teleprompter could be taken as a serious attempt at uniting a country, especially after weeks of racist rhetoric targeting Democratic Congress members of color.
People made sure to let the Times know.
Let this front page serve as a reminder of how white supremacy is aided by - and often relies upon - the cowardice… https://t.co/CUXu809tQl— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez)1565056579.0
The New York Times changed its headline for the second edition, but this is the one that landed on our doorstep & i… https://t.co/AqN1AQiMAX— Connie Schultz (@Connie Schultz)1565091144.0
As I added elsewhere: I’m not canceling our subscription, but I won’t criticize those who do. This is not the typic… https://t.co/0fPo1bgI16— Connie Schultz (@Connie Schultz)1565092770.0
Oop. Doesn’t sound like the President is Urging Unity @nytimes. Guess you were wrong on that headline. Again. https://t.co/0F2broDueS— Soledad O'Brien (@Soledad O'Brien)1565090077.0
As outcry over the headline minimizing Trump's racism continued to build, a spokesperson for the Times told the Washington Post, "The headline was bad and has been changed for the second edition."
A revised headline soon followed.
FWIW (certainly better to do this than not IMO) they changed their headline between the 1st and 2nd print edition. https://t.co/DOSAMFbvq0— Nate Silver (@Nate Silver)1565060201.0
The second attempt still left a lot to be desired.
@NateSilver538 Unfortunately the “correction” is still a deliberate mischaracterization meant to mislead readers.— Tim Turner (@Tim Turner)1565060382.0
@NateSilver538 The worst part about them changing it to "ASSAILING HATE" is that @nytimes seemed to have understood… https://t.co/tmDP3OH1BH— PurpleGrayMikey (@PurpleGrayMikey)1565060737.0
@NateSilver538 Does the NYT need to look up the definition of assail though? Trump read an (improperly written) speech. That’s it.— Matthew Grimes (@Matthew Grimes)1565061100.0
@NateSilver538 @yashar When does the third edition come out?— JP (@JP)1565060435.0
Others offered suggestions.
@NateSilver538 I’d go further. The Trump speech is neither the lead story nor deserving of an all-caps headline. Ho… https://t.co/PdWFQhmsHz— Greg Pliska (@Greg Pliska)1565061119.0
@NateSilver538 Here's a suggested edit for their digital edition headline: "Trump Disingenuously Condemns White Sup… https://t.co/Y4D5jrh8fH— Susan Henderson (@Susan Henderson)1565061038.0
@NateSilver538 Maybe it should read “Only Trump could go to Toledo”.— Jolly (@Jolly)1565062989.0
It's clear that many publications have work to do when it comes to covering this jarring moment in American history. Facing an onslaught of "fake news" accusations from the president's supporters, some outlets overcompensate with attempts at neutrality that veer into untruths. It was only recently that some mainstream outlets began calling the president's racist tweets racist.