NY Post Defends Notorious ‘Bag Men’ Headline As ‘Attention-Getter’

AP

The New York Post’s infamous “Bag Men” headline published in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings wasn’t defamatory, the newspaper argued in its libel suit defense, just an “attention-getter.”

The Washington Post‘s Erik Wemple reported Monday that the newspaper, embroiled in a libel claim filed by the two Boston residents depicted as suspects in the Marathon bombings on its front page, argued in a court brief that its headline was nothing more than “a play on words” considering that “a headline is ‘commonly understood to function primarily as an attention-getter.'”

But lawyers for Salaheddin Barhoum and Yassine Zaimi suggested that headline had a strong criminal connotation, according to court filings.

Wemple highlighted the linchpin of the Post’s response: “In the final analysis, all that plaintiffs ultimately have to say by way of complaint is that the Post printed a large headline that brought more attention to them than they believe was warranted, and that readers who jump to conclusions might have jumped to a wrong one — at least until they realized a day later that they were wrong.”

This post has been updated.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Catherine Thompson is a senior editor for Talking Points Memo in New York City. She came to the site in 2013 and reported on national affairs. Previously, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett. She can be reached at catherine@talkingpointsmemo.com.
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