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Democrats lash out at New York Times over early Trump 'unity' headline

The Hill logo The Hill 8/6/2019 Zack Budryk
a close up of text on a white background: Democrats lash out at New York Times over early Trump 'unity' headline © Getty Images Democrats lash out at New York Times over early Trump 'unity' headline

A New York Times headline asserting President Trump urged "unity vs. racism" after a pair of mass shootings over the weekend drew criticism Tuesday from sources ranging from Democratic presidential candidates to a columnist at the newspaper.

The Times's original Tuesday front-page headline, unveiled Monday night, read "TRUMP URGES UNITY VS. RACISM" in reference to his comments from the White House addressing the mass shootings.

Critics have pushed back against the Times's characterization, noting that while Trump condemned white nationalism in his remarks Monday morning, earlier in the day he had suggested the "fake news" was to blame for the shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, which killed at least 22 people.

The president also faced criticism for suggesting any gun control measures be coupled with immigration reform despite the suspect being tied to a racist, anti-immigrant manifesto that cites fears of a Hispanic "invasion," with the Times article itself noting Trump has used similar rhetoric.

"Unbelievable," former Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-Texas), a native of El Paso, tweeted of the Times headline. O'Rourke, who is running for president, has left the campaign trail to return to his hometown and has been vocal in his criticism of Trump's rhetoric following the massacres.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) also blasted the headline, tweeting, "Let this front page serve as a reminder of how white supremacy is aided by - and often relies upon - the cowardice of mainstream institutions."

The Times also took fire from within its rank. Times op-ed writer Wajahat Ali hit the paper for the headline framing, tweeting, "I write for the NYT. This is a terrible headline."

Other Democratic presidential candidates also tweeted criticism of the headline.

Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) tweeted, "Lives literally depend on you doing better, NYT. Please do," while New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) tweeted, "Hey, @nytimes - what happened to 'The Truth Is Worth It?'" Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) simply tweeted, "That's not what happened."

Amid the backlash, the headline was amended to "ASSAILING HATE, BUT NOT GUNS."

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