The Washington Post has come under fire for an online obituary headline referring to ISIS fiend Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi — who detonated a suicide vest late Saturday to avoid capture by US troops — as an “austere religious scholar.”
The original headline on the piece read, “Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Islamic State’s ‘terrorist-in-chief’ dies at 48” — but was replaced at some point Sunday with the softer “Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, austere religious scholar at helm of Islamic State, dies at 48.”
The headline was eventually changed a second time to read, “Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, extremist leader of Islamic State, dies at 48,” and a spokeswoman for the paper tweeted a mea culpa for the wording.
“Regarding our al-Baghdadi obituary, the headline should never have read that way and we changed it quickly,” wrote Kristine Coratti Kelly.
But the damage was done, with critics flocking to social media to question why the terrorist whose group achieved infamy by beheading innocent Western hostages for show was being lionized as an ascetic.
Those taking potshots ranged from Republican leaders and figures within the orbit of President Trump — who has often bristled at the broadsheet’s coverage of his administration — to some cracking wise with the viral “WaPoDeathNotices” hashtag.
“Every day, The Washington Post uses harsher words against @realDonaldTrump than they do in writing about one of the world’s most evil terrorists. Yet we’re supposed to take them at face value. Let that sink in,” wrote House Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.).
Added former White House press secretary Sean Spicer, “Stop, read this & think about it: last night a ruthless, brutal terrorist who threatened our country & is responsible for the death of American citizens was killed in a successful operation by US military & @washingtonpost described #Albagdadi as an ‘austere religious scholar.’”
The woman who now holds Spicer’s former job, Stephanie Grisham, retweeted that sentiment, adding, “I have no words.”
Most of the riffs, however, were lighthearted takes on how the paper might memorialize other villains throughout history.
“Adolf Hitler, dedicated art enthusiast, animal rights activist, and talented orator, dies at 56,” wrote Blaze TV host and writer Lauren Chen.
“Lee Harvey Oswald, gun owner and parade enthusiast, dies at 24,” cracked user @IlliniPhil.
“Satan, unorthodox faith leader known for pushing back against famous wine maker Jesus, dies at 14 billion,” joked user @jason_howerton.