The New York Times is kicking off the year 2020 in style by deleting a seriously inappropriate tweet about a convicted American war criminal-turned-conservative movement celebrity.
The Times tweeted a link on New Year’s Eve to an article about former Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher, whose 2019 conviction had led to a reduction in his rank. Gallagher became a cause célèbre on Fox News, which eventually led to President Donald Trump intervening in his case and reinstating his official rank and pay.
The Times’ article itself is a complex narrative, with the title “From the Brig to Mar-a-Lago, Former Navy SEAL Capitalizes on Newfound Fame,” and not especially flattering for Gallagher:
Following the lead of many micro influencers, Chief Gallagher’s Instagram account has also endorsed veteran-owned coffee beans and muscle-building supplements with macabre names like Double Tap and Total War. Like a sponsored athlete of the world’s most dangerous sport, he regularly shows off the logos and clothing of a number of right-wing veterans’ groups that push a distinct brand of patriotism, including an apparel brand run by the SEAL veteran who made the knife Chief Gallagher was accused of using to kill a captive. Along with all sorts of items emblazoned with the logo “KILL BAD DUDES,” the site sells a “Waterboarding Instructor” shirt.
But the Times’ tweet described him merely as a “retired Navy SEAL” with a “new apparel line.”
In 2018, Gallagher was charged with, among other things, firing indiscriminately into crowds of civilians in Mosul, Iraq and fatally stabbing a teenage Islamic State fighter while another medic was tending to his wounds. He was ultimately acquitted of most charges but convicted of posing for a photograph with the deceased Islamic State fighter.
The paper’s own recent reporting on the Gallagher case includes a trove of video testimonies from SEALs who had served with him, variously describing him as “freaking evil,” “toxic,” and someone who“just wants to kill anybody he can.”
In a tweet Thursday morning, the Times acknowledged a lack of “context” in the earlier message.
This new tweet is still rather convoluted: If Gallagher had been acquitted of all charges, he would not have needed any intervention by Trump.
Whoever’s running the Times’ Twitter account should perhaps spend more time reading what’s actually in the paper.