New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. today made the extraordinary gesture of giving prominent, Page One placement to an editorial declaring it “a moral outrage and a national disgrace that civilians can legally purchase weapons designed specifically to kill people with brutal speed and efficiency.”
It was the first A1 editorial since June, 1920, when the Times denounced the Republican presidential candidacy of Warren G. Harding, and it is comparable — in both media wave-making and in demonstrating the full weight of the Times’ leadership — to the 2004 “From The Editors” 1,100-word correction essentially renouncing much of its own coverage of the run-up to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.
Today’s editorial appears under the headline “The Gun Epidemic” in a two-column-wide box on the left-hand side of the top of Page One, under the full six-column headline “F.B.I. IS TREATING RAMPAGE AS ACT OF TERRORISM.”
Taking aim squarely at politicians in thrall to the NRA, the editorial said, “America’s elected leaders offer prayers for gun victims and then, callously and without fear of consequence, reject the most basic restrictions on weapons of mass killing, as they did on Thursday. They distract us with arguments about the word terrorism. Let’s be clear: These spree killings are all, in their own ways, acts of terrorism.”
Read the full New York Times editorial here:
The editorial’s reference to prayers echoed the eye-catching headline on Page One of Thursday’s New York Daily News, which proclaimed, “God Isn’t Fixing This,” which derided Republican politicians who, in Tweets the paper quoted, called for prayers for the victims of the latest gun massacre while continuing to advocate against gun control.
In what has become an almost horrifically mundane ritual, many of the nation’s news venues have given powerful voice in recent days to the victims of these tragedies, while calling for gun control. Also on Thursday, the Los Angeles Times, under the headline “Horror in San Bernardino: The U.S. infatuation with guns is bordering on a society-wide suicidal impulse,” editorialzed, “Enough. This nation’s infatuation with guns — inflamed by the ludicrous stances of the NRA, and abetted by Congress’ fear of that powerful but irresponsible group — is suicidal.”
In a statement today, New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr., said the paper was placing its editorial on Page 1 “to deliver a strong and visible statement of frustration and anguish about our country’s inability to come to terms with the scourge of guns.
“Even in this digital age,” Sulzberger continued, “the front page remains an incredibly strong and powerful way to surface issues that demand attention. And what issue is more important than our nation’s failure to protect its citizens?”