NY Times editor on Trump headline: It was a 'f---ing' mess

New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet on Monday admitted during a newsroom meeting that an original headline focused on President TrumpDonald TrumpOhio Republican who voted to impeach Trump says he won't seek reelection Youngkin breaks with Trump on whether Democrats will cheat in the Virginia governor's race Trump endorses challenger in Michigan AG race MORE's response to mass shootings last week was a "f---ing mess," according to The Daily Beast

Baquet made the comment during a meeting with newsroom staff that addressed an array of issues, including how the newspaper has covered Trump and race. But the meeting mainly focused on a print headline — "TRUMP URGES UNITY VS. RACISM" — describing Trump's response to a mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, that left 22 people dead earlier this month, The Daily Beast noted.

The alleged suspect is believed to have shared a racist, anti-immigrant manifesto that described Hispanic immigrants entering the U.S. as an "invasion" before the attack. Democrats were quick to point out that the manifesto echoes Trump's rhetoric about immigrants. 

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The initial headline prompted outrage from a range of Democratic lawmakers and presidential candidates after it was revealed. It was later changed to "Assailing hate but not guns."

“He’s sick. He feels terrible,” Baquet reportedly said of the person who wrote the initial headline, which he called a "f---ing mess" while urging staffers not to overreact to scrutiny the publication receives on social media. 

He added that the newspaper couldn't allow itself to be edited by outrage from Twitter users, The Daily Beast reported.

The Times's publisher, A.G. Sulzberger, also addressed staff during the meeting, at one point citing a statistic that only a small percentage of Twitter users tweeting about the newspaper's stories were clicking on them. 

In prepared remarks following the attack in El Paso, Trump called on the nation to condemn "bigotry, hatred and white supremacy." He also blamed the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio, on “gruesome and grisly video games," saying that it makes it easy for troubled youth to find a culture of violence. 

Several Democrats took issue with the way The Times initially characterized Trump's response. 

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"Lives literally depend on you doing better, NYT," 2020 presidential candidate Sen. Cory BookerCory BookerDOJ announces agencywide limits on chokeholds and no-knock entries Fighting poverty, the Biden way Top Senate Democrats urge Biden to take immediate action on home confinement program MORE (D-N.J.) said on Twitter. "Please do.”

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezConservative group files ethics complaint over Ocasio-Cortez appearance at Met Gala If .5 trillion 'infrastructure' bill fails, it's bye-bye for an increasingly unpopular Biden The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by National Industries for the Blind - Schumer: Dem unity will happen eventually; Newsom prevails MORE (D-N.Y.) argued that the headline displayed "how white supremacy is aided by — and often relies upon — the cowardice of mainstream institutions."

Meanwhile, Republicans, including Trump, asserted that The Times gave in to Democrats' demands by altering the headline. 

“’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!” the president tweeted last week. 

Baquet said to The Daily Beast in a text message that he hoped the meeting "went well."

“I just want a newsroom where people feel they can talk about coverage and complain to me," he said. 

"Dean regularly hosts open forums where people can raise issues and that is what this was," a spokesperson for The Times said in a statement to The Hill.

—Updated at 7:52 p.m.