On Tuesday night, former Clinton pollster Mark Penn commented on the New York Times changing the headline on a story about President Trump’s speech in response to two mass shootings, saying the alteration “will haunt them.”
“To actually bend after it is printed to a political faction is to cave in a way that I think will haunt them for some time to come,” Penn told Fox News’ Tucker Carlson.
On Monday evening, New York Times print editor Tom Jolly tweeted an image of the paper’s Tuesday morning print edition, featuring a headline about the speech that read “Trump Urges Unity Vs. Racism.”
Later editions of the paper carried a new headline: “Assailing Hate But Not Guns.” Executive editor Dean Baquet later told the Daily Beast, “It was written on deadline and when it was passed along for approval we all saw it was a bad headline and changed it pretty quickly.”
“The paper wanted to please a constituency,” Penn said, calling the change “incredible.”
He asked, “Why don’t they just run the headlines before [Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez] before they run them now and not get in this situation? … Is that journalism today? I don’t think so.”
A Times spokesperson told TheWrap on Tuesday that the paper saw “a higher volume of cancellations today than is typical” after the backlash to the original headline.
Dozens of people claimed to have unsubscribed to the paper Monday, or threatened to do so. The headline was also criticized by prominent media personalities and public figures, like Democratic presidential hopefuls Sen. Cory Booker, Mayor Bill de Blasio, and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke.
Trump reacted to the change in headlines early Wednesday morning, tweeting, “‘Trump Urges Unity Vs. Racism,’ was the correct description in the first headline by the Failing New York Times, but it was quickly changed to, “Assailing Hate But Not Guns,” after the Radical Left Democrats went absolutely CRAZY! Fake News – That’s what we’re up against…”
He followed that up with a tweet that suggested he was catching up on Tuesday night’s Fox programming: “..’This is an astounding development in journalism. I’ve never seen it happen before, I’ve just never seen anything like this! Is that journalism today? I don’t think so!’ Mark Penn, Former Clinton Advisor.”