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Rubio defends Haley over curtains story: Example of media pushing bias

Rubio defends Haley over curtains story: Example of media pushing bias
© Greg Nash

Florida Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioMeghan McCain calls Russian attacks against her father the 'highest compliment' to her family The Memo: Saudi storm darkens for Trump GOP leaders hesitant to challenge Trump on Saudi Arabia MORE (R) on Friday took aim at news outlets including The New York Times on Friday over a story detailing a $52,000 expenditure by the State Department to upgrade curtains at U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki HaleyNimrata (Nikki) HaleyMary Kissel expected to join State Department Scarborough predicts Trump will ‘cash out’ and not run in 2020 Toobin: Flake and Sasse ‘never actually take a stand’ against Trump MORE's New York residence.

Rubio said the Times headline for the story, which read, "Nikki Haley's View of New York is Priceless. Her Curtains? $52,701" was an example of the “subtle” way the “media pushes their bias.”

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"Want an example of subtle ways media pushes their bias?" Rubio said in a tweet. "See this completely false & misleading headline about ⁦@nikkihaley. They are not 'her curtains' & buried deep in story is the fact that this purchase was made under Obama administration."

The headline on the article has since been changed to read "State Department Spent $52,701 on Curtains for Nikki Haley’s Residence," though the preview headline on social media remains unchanged.

A spokesman for Haley told the Times that the purchase, which includes a motorized feature to allow the curtains to be closed automatically, was decided during the Obama administration and installed last year, during former Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonWatchdog org: Tillerson used million in taxpayer funds to fly throughout US Trump administration rigging the game, and your retirement fund could be the loser Haley’s exit sends shockwaves through Washington MORE's tenure at the agency.

Installation of the costly piece occurred during a State Department hiring freeze, the Times noted, as well as budget cuts for many agencies.

The Times has since added an editor's note to the story that notes, "An earlier version of this article and headline created an unfair impression about who was responsible for the purchase in question. While Nikki R. Haley is the current ambassador to the United Nations, the decision on leasing the ambassador’s residence and purchasing the curtains was made during the Obama administration, according to current and former officials. The article should not have focused on Ms. Haley, nor should a picture of her have been used. The article and headline have now been edited to reflect those concerns, and the picture has been removed."

A top State Department official under the Obama administration defended the agency's purchase to the Times, noting that Haley only has one part-time staffer assisting her at the residence.

“All she’s got is a part-time maid, and the ability to open and close the curtains quickly is important,” Patrick Kennedy told the newspaper.

But other Obama-era officials questioned why such a purchase was made during a season of budget cuts at the agency.

“How can you, on the one hand, tell diplomats that basic needs cannot be met and, on the other hand, spend more than $50,000 on a customized curtain system for the ambassador to the U.N.?” asked Brett Bruen, a former White House aide.

--Updated at 2:35 p.m.