The New York Times has been pressured into changing its front-page headline after it was accused of endorsing Donald Trump’s speech, and ignoring the violent tactic employed to clear peaceful protesters in Washington DC.
The US president announced on Monday he would take immediate action to “stop the violence and restore security and safety in America” as protests over George Floyd’s death continued for a sixth day.
“If a city or state refuses to take the actions that are necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the US military and quickly solve the problem for them,” he said.
Shortly after, police used tear gas and rubber bullets on peaceful protesters outside the White House to clear crowds as Mr Trump made his way to a nearby church where he posed for a photo with a bible.
New York Times print editor Tom Jolly later tweeted an image of what was to be the following day’s front page. The headline sparked outrage so intense it was eventually altered.
— Tom Jolly (@TomJolly) June 2, 2020
“As chaos spreads, Trump vows to ‘end it now’,” the controversial headline read.
Critics promptly expressed their disapproval in posts to Twitter, noting confusion at how such a misjudgement made it past editors.
Representative for New York's 14th congressional district, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, re-tweeted Mr Jolly’s preview writing: “You’ve got to be kidding me”.
“The President is acting like a budding dictator. Headline fail,” Democratic Party member Julián Castro wrote.
He later shared another image depicting an online version of the story with the headline “police clear protesters with tear gas so Trump can pose by church”.
“See, your online team gets it,” Mr Castro wrote.
‘An endorsement of fascism’
Several people replied pledging not to renew their subscription to the publication after the headline, with one saying “this has changed me”.
“This headline goes beyond gaslighting and reads as a full-on endorsement of fascism—and it’s the front page of the New York Times,” another person tweeted.
“The New York Times headline writers are going to Both Sides the country to death,” Senator Brian Schatz wrote.
Adviser to former president Barack Obama Ben Rhodes said the headline did little to reflect the reality of what was happening across the United States.
“If the New York Times thinks this accurately describes what happened today, I have no idea what country they’ve been living in — they should just let Trump write their headlines,” he wrote.
Following the outcry, the headline was changed before the publication of a later edition to read, “Trump threatens to send troops into states”.
The publication has not released a formal statement on the headline or backlash it received as a result of it.
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