New York Tabloids Incite Backlash Over "Muslim Killers" and Prayer Covers

ny daily news and the ny post covers Split - H 2015
Courtesy of NY Daily News and The NY Post

Sharply diverging, the 'New York Post' ran the headline of "Muslim Killers" while the Daily News wrote "God Isn't Fixing This."

The New York Post and the Daily News each sparked controversy with their respective covers on Wednesday's shooting in San Bernardino.

One of the Post's covers reads "Muslim Killers," referring to Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik who police say shot and killed 14 people, wounding 21 others. (Another print cover's headline reads "Murder Mission.")

Meanwhile, the Daily News cover reads "God Isn't Fixing This," with highlighted tweets of Republican politicians sending their thoughts and prayers to the victims and their families.

On social media, Post critics say that the tabloid is unfairly drawing attention to the attackers' reported religion and casting a negative light on Islam. Daily News critics accuse the newspaper of "prayer-shaming" religious politicians.

The Daily News editor-in-chief Jim Rich responded to readers in a statement on Thursday: “The Daily News' front page is not, in any way, shape or form, condemning prayer or religion. Anyone suggesting otherwise is — either intentionally or unintentionally — misconstruing the point, which is that most GOP politicians have offered nothing but empty platitudes and angry rhetoric in response to the ongoing plague of gun violence in our country.”

Noting the diverging ideologies of the tabloids, The New York Times' Jonathan Weisman tweeted:

Media analyst Alan Mutter tells The Hollywood Reporter that he doesn't necessarily agree the two covers represent two different ideologies. He says people often "burden these tabloids with a lot more emotional freight than they are meant to deliver."

He says he thinks the need to sell newspapers on the street is the driving factor behind the headlines, rather than ideological stances. "To a large degree, what you're seeing is two highly competitive newspapers who are struggling for audience and circulation, struggling for dollars, and today, screaming as loudly and emotionally as they can," says Mutter.

However, in his opinion, Mutter thinks the NY Post's Muslim Killers cover was "extremely inflammatory and ill-advised" and the Daily News cover was more about gun control than religion.

Rand Paul, Chris Murphy and journalists also weighed in with their opinions.