The Washington Post is facing criticism for the wording in their headline for an obituary article about Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
President Trump previously announced that Baghdadi was killed Saturday night during a U.S. military raid in northern Syria. Trump claimed that Baghdadi ran into a dead-end tunnel with three of his children as they were pursued by military dogs, and all were killed when Baghdadi detonated a suicide vest.
Originally called a "terrorist-in-chief" by The Post, the headline was later changed to call Baghdadi an "austere religious scholar," and finally "extremist leader."
The move didn't sit well with journalists and politicians alike.
The Washington Post has now changed its description of ISIS founder Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi from “Terrorist in Chief”… https://t.co/H6pGdaPMgF— Jerry Dunleavy (@Jerry Dunleavy)1572190604.0
Republicans were particularly vocal with their condemnations of The Post's verbiage, especially those working for Trump's 2020 campaign, including campaign Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany and Communications Director Tim Murtaugh.
"Religious scholar" - @washingtonpost https://t.co/3Z3zQNrE4d— Trump War Room (Text TRUMP to 88022) (@Trump War Room (Text TRUMP to 88022))1572192266.0
The @washingtonpost described the death of al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS, as the death of an “austere religious s… https://t.co/qK0EjKVvrG— Kayleigh McEnany (@Kayleigh McEnany)1572194254.0
A lot is being made of the @washingtonpost’s now-changed headline of al-Baghdadi’s obit. But how about this from t… https://t.co/3CHLItzrvW— Tim Murtaugh (@Tim Murtaugh)1572193754.0
“despite the group’s extremist views and vicious tactics, Mr. Baghdadi maintained a canny pragmatism as leader” An… https://t.co/ZmmsspkA0B— Tim Murtaugh (@Tim Murtaugh)1572193757.0
GOP National Spokesperson Elizabeth Harrington also chimed in to slam The Post's obit, calling Baghdadi a "terrorist monster."
WaPo's actual obit for a terrorist monster: "austere religious scholar w/ wire-frame glasses" "Mr. Baghdadi maint… https://t.co/nYelqcY169— Elizabeth Harrington (@Elizabeth Harrington)1572190098.0
Former Press Secretary Sean Spicer condemned the move as well on Twitter.
Stop, read this & think about it: last night a ruthless, brutal terrorist who threatened our country & is responsib… https://t.co/fZkHJm7oek— Sean Spicer (@Sean Spicer)1572190798.0
The Post's Vice President of Communications Kristine Coratti Kelly responded to the backlash on Twitter, admitting that "the headline should never have read that way."
Regarding our al-Baghdadi obituary, the headline should never have read that way and we changed it quickly.— Kristine Coratti Kelly (@Kristine Coratti Kelly)1572200762.0
Soon, #WaPoDeathNotices started to trend as conservatives trolled the publication with fake headlines for infamously villainous characters, both real and fictional.
Saddam Hussein, successful politician, oil baron and noted tough boss, dead at 69. #WaPoDeathNotices— Sen. Denise Batters (@Sen. Denise Batters)1572203249.0
Osama bin Laden, father of 23, killed in home invasion #WaPoDeathNotices— Joe DeVito (@Joe DeVito)1572209253.0
Voldemort, relic collector and noted snake charmer, dead at 71. #WaPoDeathNotices https://t.co/nt85iI2kP5— Adam McAnally (@Adam McAnally)1572205860.0
Hannibal Lecter, well-known forensic psychiatrist and food connoisseur dead at 81. #WaPoDeathNotices— Kassy Dillon (@Kassy Dillon)1572211556.0
Adolf Hitler, passionate community planner and dynamic public speaker, dies at 56. #WaPoDeathNotices— Jason Howerton (@Jason Howerton)1572191219.0
Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, wealth re-distributors in the banking sector, died today from extreme air conditioning. #WaPoDeathNotices— Elayne Boosler (@Elayne Boosler)1572208402.0
Wicked Witch of the West, devoted sister, broom enthusiast, died suddenly from oversaturation, age unknown #WaPoDeathNotices— Emily Brandwin (@Emily Brandwin)1572207864.0
Considering how Trump and his administration love to spin things to their advantage, the conservative backlash is unsurprising if not somewhat ironic.
But with his prior call for all federal government agencies to cancel their subscriptions to both The Post and The New York Times, Trump won't have to see their headlines for much longer.