The New York Times has learned its lesson on front-page headlines, making sure it injected plenty of anti-Trump context to lead its Thursday edition, after being vilified by the left for insufficient hostility toward Trump (and quickly changing a banner headline) on Tuesday.
The headline over Thursday’s lead story posed no such danger to liberal groupthink, as it dutifully countered everything Trump did with a liberal rebuttal: “President Uses A Day Of Healing To Stoke Discord – Trip To Ohio And Texas – Trump’s Anger at Critics Eclipses His Gestures Toward Victims.”
Reporters Michael Crowley, Maggie Haberman, and Michael Shear painted a picture of a president trying and failing utterly to morally rise to the occasion (click “expand”):
President Trump visited Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso on Wednesday on a day intended as a show of compassion to cities scarred by a weekend of violence, but which quickly devolved into an occasion for anger-fueled broadsides against Democrats and the news media.
Mr. Trump’s schedule was meant to follow the traditional model of apolitical presidential visits with victims, law enforcement officials and hospital workers after calamities like the mass shootings that resulted in 31 deaths in Dayton and El Paso and that created a new sense of national crisis over assault weapons and the rise of white supremacist ideology.
Democratic presidential candidates lashed out at Trump, and Trump, as is his wont, snapped back. Guess who took the blame:
The result was the latest example of Mr. Trump’s penchant for inflaming divisions at moments when other presidents have tried to soothe them, and further proof of his staff’s inability to persuade him to follow the norms of presidential behavior.
The Times chided Trump for daring to point out that violence is not confined to the right (click “expand”):
Even as the president denied that he had “fanned the flames of white supremacy,” as Mr. Biden had asserted, Mr. Trump repeated his past claim of equivalence between extremists on the left and right.
“I am concerned about the rise of any group of hate,” the president told reporters before leaving the White House. “Any group of hate, I am -- whether it’s white supremacy, whether it’s any other kind of supremacy, whether it’s antifa, whether it’s any group of hate, I am very concerned about it.”
That response had echoes of Mr. Trump’s characterization of a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., in August 2017 that left a counterprotester dead. After initially condemning white supremacy, the president later said that violence had been committed “on many sides.”
Even when the reporters attempted factual balance, it came carefully nested as things that conservatives or Trump aides had claimed, not simply facts that stand alone (the sentence in bold below about Rep. Scalise didn’t appear in all print editions):
In recent days, Mr. Trump’s aides have also sought to draw attention to other acts of violence committed by people who have expressed leftist political views. They include the 2017 shooting of a Republican representative, Steve Scalise, at a softball practice by a man with a history of anti-Republican diatribes. But many current and former law enforcement officials are increasingly concerned that white nationalist violence is growing into a major domestic terrorist threat.
Also on the Times’s front page Thursday, Simon Romero and Rick Rojas defended the El Paso locals against the president in “El Paso Says Trump Doesn’t ‘Know Who We Are.’”
White House correspondent Michael Shear gathered up Times reporting from various places to chide Trump for engaging with critics on a national day of mourning:
Mr. Trump began a day set aside for healing by delivering a series of political grievances against liberals and the media, once again using Twitter to exhibit the divisive language that has prompted some in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio, to protest his visits after horrific shootings in those cities.
The president’s press secretary said Mr. Trump planned to honor victims, comfort families and thank emergency workers “for their heroic actions.”
At last. the apparent left-wing political views of the Dayton shooter made it into the Times, though again, those facts inconvenient to the liberal media narrative were rhetorically fenced off as coming from “conservatives”:
In a tweet on Wednesday morning, Mr. Trump quoted a conservative television news outlet’s reporting that “the Dayton, Ohio, shooter had a history of supporting political figures like Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and ANTIFA.”
Yet The Times quickly downplayed any possible link between the killer’s leftist politics and the mass murders, a change of pace for The Times, which usually goes to great lengths to find right-wing ties to mass murderers, even when they don't exist:
Although the F.B.I. is investigating “violent ideologies” that the Dayton gunman was exploring, the authorities have said there was no evidence that his rampage had anything to do with his political views, which his friends have described as far-left.
Again, the paper felt the need to inoculate themselves from potentially spreading conservative-friendly facts by underlining that they came from “conservatives”:
In the wake of the mass shooting that killed nine and wounded more than two dozen others, conservatives have pointed out that the Twitter account that may be associated with the gunman also expressed support for Mr. Sanders and Ms. Warren, sharing one post that said they were the only two acceptable candidates in the race for president.