A website owned by the Star Tribune, Minnesota’s largest mainstream outlet, published a story Friday titled, “Let’s laugh at all these very good ‘Trump has COVID’ tweets.”
News broke early Friday morning that President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump tested positive for the coronavirus. The president said he and the first lady feel healthy in a video statement posted later that day. He also has been transported to Walter Reed Military Medical Center as a precautionary measure.
As this breaking story developed, City Pages Editor in Chief Emily Cassel described it as “a hit of dopamine for the first time since … March? 2016?” City Pages is a Minneapolis-based outlet.
“So President Trump and the First Lady have COVID. Man, anyone else just in a really, inexplicably good mood this morning?” Cassel began her article.
She then linked to 19 Twitter posts, all of which either celebrated Trump’s coronavirus diagnosis or fantasized about the possibility of his death.
“Say what you will about donald trump [sic] as a person, but he is our president and i [sic] think i [sic] speak for everyone when i [sic] say that it would be insanely funny if he died of the coronavirus,” reads a tweet from David Tveite that City Pages chose to glorify.
“Joe Biden called upon Allah at the debate and this is His reward,” says another embedded tweet. This post comes from author Tim Faust and refers to Joe Biden’s sarcastic use of the phrase “inshallah” during the first presidential debate Tuesday night.
The Biden campaign confirmed that the former vice president used the phrase “inshallah,” which means “if Allah wills it” in Arabic.
“Thinking I might spend the next few hours saying ‘why what happened’ every time a friend texts me about this … it just makes them so happy to tell me,” says a third post from Haley Mlotek, an editor at a fashion magazine, whose tweet was shared by City Pages.
The City Pages article has since been retracted, but an archival link to the article remains live.
The site issued a brief, three-sentence statement after retracting the article.
“The post, and the tweets that were shared as part of it, were insensitive and in bad taste. The posting has been removed from our website. While it is in the spirit of alt-weekly journalism to provoke and to push boundaries, in this case we went too far,” said Publisher Mary Erickson.
“We apologize to our readers and to our advertisers, and wish President and Mrs. Trump a safe and speedy recovery.”