The Washington Post deleted a tweet promoting one of its stories on Wednesday that suggested Attorney General Merrick Garland “politicized” the Department of Justice by authorizing an FBI raid of former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate.
“Garland vowed to depoliticize Justice. Then the FBI searched Mar-a-Lago,” read the headline of a story written by Justice Department reporter Perry Stein.
The headline in the tweet sparked outrage on Twitter, which apparently prompted the Jeff Bezos-owned broadsheet to remove the tweet and re-post it using a different headline.
“No, he’s in the middle of unraveling a crime spree committed by the former president of the United States. There…fixed it for you,” one Twitter user wrote.
“This is so embarrassing I worry for the future of journalism,” another Twitter commenter said of the original headline.
Jay Rosen, who teaches journalism at New York University, said the original headline was “painfully under-thought” because it “seemed to say that Garland was shifting course and unduly politicizing DOJ.”
The newspaper on Wednesday posted a tweet which read: “Clarification: A previous tweet of this story had a headline that has changed after publishing. We’ve deleted the tweet.”
The new headline reads: “FBI’s search of Mar-a-Lago lands Merrick Garland in a political firestorm.”
FBI agents on Monday searched Trump’s Palm Beach estate — marking the first time that federal investigators descended on the private residence of a former president.
The raid was conducted as part of an ongoing federal investigation into Trump’s handling of classified documents that were apparently removed from the White House in the waning days of his presidency.
Trump is also the subject of a federal inquiry into the events of Jan. 6, 2021, when his supporters mobbed the US Capitol as Congress was in session to certify Joe Biden’s election victory.
Republicans accused the Biden administration of using the Justice Department as a tool to persecute political opponents.
Even some Democrats expressed unease with the search.
Former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo tweeted: “DOJ must immediately explain the reason for its raid & it must be more than a search for inconsequential archives or it will be viewed as a political tactic and undermine any future credible investigation & legitimacy of January 6 investigations.”
Trump is expected to announce whether he’ll seek another run for White House. Polls show him leading the field of GOP hopefuls.
Garland has refused to comment if he authorized the FBI’s search.
In her story, Stein writes that “some lawyers questioned why the Justice Department and FBI would execute such a high-profile search on a former president’s residence over missing documents, even if some of them are classified.”
The paper’s Twitter gaffe comes on the heels of an internal drama that played out on the social media site.
One of its political reporters, Dave Weigel, was suspended for a month without pay in June for retweeting a post that was deemed sexist.
Weigel’s colleague, Felicia Sonmez, who first flagged the retweet, was fired weeks later after she criticized management and other co-workers on the social media site.