The New York Times headline read: “Trump Urges Unity Vs. Racism.” Hours later, the headline read: “Assailing Hate But Not Guns.”
The New York Times retracted a 100% factually correct headline. Why? Because left-wing pundits and politicians whinged until they got they got their way. It’s not unusual for pundits and politicians to whinge, but what is remarkable is that The New York Times actually changed the title to accommodate them.
How can anyone take these people seriously? Democratic Presidential candidate Cory Booker actually suggested that the factual headline would cost lives.
Managing editor Matt Purdy of The New York Times addressed the headline swap:
We needed to deliver a nuanced message in a very small space under tight deadlines, and unfortunately, our first attempt at that did not hit it right … As this conversation was happening among Times editors, readers began discussing the initial headline on Twitter. They rightly pointed out that the initial headline didn’t reflect the story accurately… But we agree that headlines are extremely important, and in this case, we should have done better.
Now, we are no fans of Trump, but spinning the facts of what he says to make it align with a narrative where he is the villain doesn’t actually villainize him. And altering the factually correct headline of a news story— not opinion but news—in order to capitulate to one side of the political debate is the exact opposite of what a responsible outlet should do. This headline was not in bold print on the opinion page, but above the fold, front and center. The concern was not just the context of the fact being reported, but that the reporting of this fact wasn’t partisan for once.
The Federalist’s Mollie Hemingway was quick to point out just how dangerous and insane this move by NYT was:
The perspective that Donald Trump is a terrible guy who is terrible at his job is well shown in mainstream media, and it’s a reasonable if not nuanced opinion. But that doesn’t mean it should be the lede in every story about things that actually happened. One can almost hear the cries of “resist” echoing around the NYT’s newsroom, and no one yelling back “resist what?”
This has become a seriously dangerous problem. Journalists and pundits are so anxious to make sure that everyone knows they hate Trump, and to point out that even when he does or says something that isn’t miserably horrible it is still miserably horrible, that they feed the opposition’s narrative that the mainstream media is opposed to Trump no matter what … because they are. There is nothing objective in this kind of reporting. It’s not reporting, it’s opinion, and it doesn’t belong on the front page of the paper of record.
The New York Times isn’t the only mainstream media outlet that feels the need to ensure that Trump is shown in the worst possible light no matter what the facts of the given happening are.
Malcolm Nance recently went on MSNBC suggested that Trump was subconsciously communicating to Nazis:
These people feel that they are the foot soldiers and executors of what the disenfranchisement that the white race is feeling and Donald Trump is giving them subliminal orders in their head. They are no different than the mobilized, self-starting, self-radicalized terrorists of ISIS here in the United States and Europe, who take cars and drive down streets. It’s just that they have a permissive environment in which they can get firearms and go out and attack their perceived enemies.
This kind of rhetoric feeds the trolls, and pushing the extremes in a panic that they will become the norm turns them into the norm. There’s this idea that if media doesn’t call out Trump to the most severe possible scenario, the public is being done a disservice. But hyperbole and exceptional exaggeration don’t help either. There doesn’t always have to be a caveat about how much Trump is hated before Trump is discussed, even though we did that.
Another MSNBC talking head, host Nicolle Wallace claimed that Trump wanted to commit genocide on Latinos. Her actual words were that Trump was “talking about exterminating Latinos.” She then was forced to apologize for her incendiary rhetoric. You see, she simply “misspoke.”
Finally, on the topic of “misspeaking,” yet-another MSNBC contributor and former FBI counterintelligence official Frank Figliuzzi went on the wildest tangent of a conspiracy theory. President Trump had announced that the country would fly U.S. flags at half-mast in memory of the victims of the mass murders over the weekend through August 8. Noting that the date August 8 could be written 88, Figliuzzi went on a crazed rant about how the number 88 is a secret, neo-Nazi callout.
And I’ll give you an example of that. We have to understand the adversary and the threat we’re dealing with. And if we don’t understand how they think, we’ll never understand how to counter them. So, it’s little things and language and messaging that matters. The President said that we will fly our flags at half-mast until August 8th. That’s 8/8.
The idea is that H is the 8th letter of the alphabet, so to say 88 is to say HH, which is secret code for ‘Heil Hitler.’ But the neo-Nazis don’t get to have ownership over the numbers, and it’s absurd to cede numbers to them just because there’s some weird secret code.
Flags were flown at half-mast for five days after the Parkland, FL massacre, and they were flown at half-mast for five days after the miserable mass murder weekend. Maybe there’s some sort of racist trope associated with the number five as well that Fugliuzzi can hip us to.
He goes on to say:
Now, I’m not going to imply that he did this deliberately but I am using it as an example of the ignorance of the adversary that’s being demonstrated by the White House. The numbers “88” are very significant in neo-Nazi and white supremacy movement.
Fugliuzzi is not even saying that this was intentional on the part of the President, he’s just saying that the President should have been more aware of the Nazis’ secret code when establishing flag guidelines during this period of national mourning. Presidential advisors should not give credence to obscure neo-Nazi symbolism because that is what strengthens it.
There was a raid on food processing plants in Mississippi, and many illegal immigrants were detained. This is what should be discussed. There are so many ways that Democrats and Republicans can work together on the border crisis to make things better for the people directly affected by it. The language about imaginary genocide and imaginary Nazis makes it hard for people to actually hear the truth, which is bad enough with obfuscation.
The voices condemning Trump and the actions of his administration are so loud and vilifying that the truth is lost in the shuffle. It used to be that Antifa and the Proud Boys were the ones larping and chasing imaginary Nazis and ghosts of a more hateful time in our history. Now The New York Times and MSNBC are.
Now, it’s one thing for deranged pundits to spout conspiracy theories on MSNBC. But there is a direct line from the amped-up, unhinged rhetoric of Nance, Wallace, and Fugliuzzi to the decision that The New York Times change their headline from an accurate one to a politically partisan one. The conspiratorial paranoia of frothing ideologues has become normalized and is now adversely affecting our free press. The rights of a free press are meaningless if that press is compelled to spout specific opinions and perspectives just to prove their salt as part of the media in-crowd. The New York Times used to be the most trustworthy paper on the planet, and now it’s becoming just another resistance rag that can’t tell the difference between fact and opinion.