One left-wing media outlet quickly changed its headline about the latest Democrat scandal in Virginia after it was swiftly and thoroughly mocked online.
Once news broke that Democrat Mark Herring, Virginia’s Attorney General, had also worn blackface to a party in the mid-1980s, outlets scrambled to get their piece of the traffic. Most headlines reported that Herring wore “blackface” to a party.
“Virginia Attorney General Says He Wore Blackface at College Party,” read the headline on Bloomberg.
“Virginia’s attorney general admits wearing blackface in college,” wrote the BBC.
“UPDATE: Virginia Attorney Mark Herring admits to wearing blackface at college party in 1980,” reported the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
“Virginia Attorney General Herring says he wore blackface in college,” was the headline at the Washington Post.
The list goes on.
But over at The New York Times, the headline was a little different.
“Virginia Attorney General Says He Also Dressed in Dark Makeup,” the Times reported.
Seriously? That’s quite the downplay. “Dark makeup” is used to describe women wearing lots of eyeliner or dark eyeshadow. This wording makes it sound like Herring dressed in drag in the ’80s, something he may not be criticized for today.
It’s not even the wording Herring himself used in his statement on the issue. Herring said he wore “brown makeup,” so the Times couldn’t even pretend that they used the phrase because Herring did so.
“It sounds ridiculous even now writing it. But because of our ignorance and glib attitudes – and because we did not have an appreciation for the experiences and perspectives of others – we dressed up and put on wigs and brown makeup,” Herring said in his statement.
“That conduct clearly shows that, as a young man, I had a callous and inexcusable lack of awareness and insensitivity to the pain my behavior could inflict on others,” he added. “It was really a minimization of both people of color, and a minimization of a horrific history I knew well even then.”
Within minutes of being called out on social media, the Times stealth-edited the headline. There’s no acknowledgement anywhere about the change.
The new headline reads: “Virginia Attorney General Says He Also Dressed in Blackface.”
Jonathan Martin, one of the Times authors of the article, likely didn’t write the headline, as he has been astutely covering the story in detail for days on Twitter. The article itself certainly does not attempt to shield Herring, or Gov. Ralph Northam or Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax — also Democrats — from the scandals in which they are now enveloped. Northam, after defending infanticide, was accused of donning blackface or a KKK robe in a photo in his medical school yearbook. He at first apologized for appearing in the photo, but then said he was not in the photo, but had dressed as Michael Jackson at another time.
Fairfax has been accused of sexually assaulting a woman in 2004 at the Democratic National Convention when he was a John Kerry campaign staffer. All of this is included, at length, in the Times article, but the way the paper chose to originally present the headline is telling.