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Backlash is intense against LA Times for news story involving Trump, COVID, Reagan assassination attempt


'A new low in American journalism'

Yuri Gripas/Abaca/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Los Angeles Times triggered a tsunami of backlash on Friday after publishing an article that seemingly jeered President Donald Trump for his coronavirus diagnosis.

What are the details?

The Times, one of America's largest newspapers, published a story Friday that was titled, "When Reagan was shot, country rallied around, but he hadn't spent months downplaying assassins."

The article goes on to say:

When President Reagan was shot and nearly killed by a would-be assassin, the country rallied around him. But he also hadn't spent eight months downplaying the threat of deranged gunmen.
Reagan grew from the experience. In his diary, he wrote he prayed for the man who shot him. The day fundamentally transformed the president's worldview. He believed his life had been spared by God for a reason — to reduce the threat of nuclear war. Do we expect Trump to evolve, to empathize more with those who caught the virus? To date, there's little evidence of that, but the example of Reagan might stand Trump and his White House in good stead.

The article was written by Los Angeles Times staff writer Del Quentin Wilber, whose bio identifies him "an enterprise and investigative reporter" — not an opinion writer — for the Times.

What was the response?

The Times was raked over the coals for publishing the sly implication that Trump was deserving of his COVID-19 diagnosis.

Many critics pointed to the story, and its framing, as evidence of why Americans do not trust the media.

  • "The corrupt media: 'Why do they call us the enemy of the people?' This. This is why," one person responded.
  • "Its people like you that will get Trump re-elected. Thanks," another person said.
  • "Just when you think the media can't go any lower, it does. Ghouls," another person responded.
  • "A new low in American journalism," another person said.
  • "Just when you think they've hit rock bottom, they start to dig," yet another person responded.
  • "Desperately unhappy people now own & operate many of our formerly great legacy media properties. For shame," Rasmussen Reports said.
  • "This is shameful. America is better than this ...," Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) said.
  • "This is absolutely vile," another person reacted.
  • "I thought this was like an opinion piece but it's a news story? Just an insane way to frame this," another person said.
  • "Whenever I think I can't actually be shocked at tasteless framing from the media, things like this get posted to remind you that some media outlets are enjoying the @realDonaldTrump news. These people are unhinged," yet another person said.
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