There Are Headlines…And Then There Are GREAT Headlines

The purpose of a headline is to catch your eye, draw you into the article, and encourage you to read the entire piece.

A headline will catch your eye.

A good headline will catch your eye and draw you into the article.

A great headline will catch your eye, draw you into the article, and make reading the article…


So irresistible that we’ll think, “I like how this media outlet covers the news!”  We’ll return to that outlet for more of their stories.  Maybe share them with others.

I’ve seen a slew of great headlines recently, prompted by this:

On November 15, Trump announced he was running for president in 2024.

That night, the next day and for several days after, I feasted on great headlines.

Let’s start with this November 17 editorial in my hometown newspaper, the San Diego Union-Tribune:

The article opened with:

“Since launching his victorious campaign to be president in 2015 by saying Mexican immigrants bring drugs and crime and are rapists though ‘some, I assume, are good people,’ Donald Trump has repeatedly shown he shouldn’t be trusted with democracy.”

No one can accuse that writer of mincing words.

The editorial also talked about coverage in other media outlets of Trump’s running-for-president-in-2024 announcement:

“The New York Post relegated Trump’s announcement to page 26 of Wednesday’s edition, teasing to the story on its cover with the four words, ‘Florida Man Makes Announcement.’”

Here’s that New York Post:

Great headline!

Or perhaps I should say, bottomline?

And speaking of irresistible, The New York Times cited another great headline from the New York Post:

Here’s the headline:

The Union-Tribune editorial also mentioned this from CNN:

Irresistible!  The article was a veritable feast of Trump’s “false and misleading claims,” though the writers assured us was “not a comprehensive list.”

And that story led me to this one:

Here’s one example from the story:

“‘When the wall was finished, that’s how we set all these records.  We have records that nobody can even compete with right now,’ Donald J. Trump said.”


“The Trump administration constructed 453 miles of border wall over four years, and a vast majority of the new barriers reinforced or replaced existing structures.  Of those, about 47 miles were new primary barriers.  The United States’ southwestern border with Mexico is over 1,900 miles.”

And Fox News – Fox News! – was the reason for this great headline about Trump’s announcement:

Here’s another great headline, recounting the audience reaction to Trump’s announcement:

Trump’s speech was so awful that it took security guards to force some people to stay.

Now let’s take a headline-related stroll down Memory Lane and a great headline from 2015 that didn’t get the attention I think it deserved.

So I’ll offer it now:

“When Donald J. Trump bought a fixer-upper golf club on Lowes Island here for $13 million in 2009, he poured millions more into reconfiguring its two courses.  He angered conservationists by chopping down more than 400 trees to open up views of the Potomac River.  And he shocked no one by renaming the club after himself.”

It was business as usual for Trump.

Just FYI, here’s a map showing Lowes Island, the Potomac River, and Trump’s golf club:

So, why do I consider the above headline from 2015 a great headline?

Because it caught my eye, drew me into the article, and made reading the article…


Plus, any article that recounts Trump’s abysmal ignorance of history is going to keep me reading.

What’s the “history” that Trump “dressed up”?

“Between the 14th hole and the 15th tee of one of the club’s two courses, Mr. Trump installed a flagpole on a stone pedestal overlooking the Potomac, to which he affixed a plaque purportedly designating ‘The River of Blood.’”

Here’s the pedestal and plaque:

Here’s a close-up of the plaque:

And here’s the problem with the plaque, says The New York Times article:

“‘No.  Uh-uh.  No way. Nothing like that ever happened there,’ said Richard Gillespie, the executive director of the Mosby Heritage Area Association, a historical preservation and education group devoted to an 1,800-square-mile section of the Northern Virginia Piedmont, including the Lowes Island site.”

“Mr. Gillespie’s contradiction of the plaque’s account was seconded by Alana Blumenthal, the curator of the Loudoun Museum in nearby Leesburg.

“(‘A third local expert, who said he had written to Mr. Trump’s company about the inscription’s falsehoods and offered to provide historically valid replacement text, insisted on anonymity because he did not want to cross the Trump Organization by disclosing a private exchange.’)”

I’m trying to imagine who came up with the idea of a fake Civil War memorial to put on Trump’s golf course.  It couldn’t have been Trump, whose knowledge of history might stretch as far back as what he had for breakfast that morning.

I can just hear Trump explaining our Civil War:

“Yeah, it was that war where – and I know this stuff, I’m a big history fan, everybody knows that.  People come up to me all the time and say so.  They say, ‘Mr. President’ – that’s what everybody calls me – they say, ‘Mr. President, you sure know your history.’  And the Civil War was a war, and it was where everybody was nice to each other.  You know – civil?  Nice?”

In his first 18 months in the White House, Trump screwed up history facts many times, according to this June 2018 article:

This article (great headline, by the way) was written too early to include my personal favorite of Trump’s history gaffes, from his July 4th speech in 2019:

“In June of 1775, the Continental Congress created a unified army out of the revolutionary forces encamped around Boston and New York.  Our army manned the air, it rammed the ramparts, it took over the airports, it did everything it had to do, and at Fort McHenry, under the rockets’ red glare, it had nothing but victory.”

Gaffe #1:  There were no airports in 1775 for the army to take over.

Gaffe #2:  Fort McHenry was a battle site in the War of 1812, not the Revolutionary War (1775-1783).

Gaffe#3:  “The rockets’ red glare” is a lyric from our National Anthem, inspired by the battle at Fort McHenry in 1814.

Trump’s remarks generated many great headlines, both national and international, like this one from the United Kingdom:

It also generated a social media storm, including this:

So it likely wasn’t Trump who came up with the fake Civil War memorial idea, and it must have been one of his toadies.

There have been and are so many, I couldn’t begin to guess which one.

After The New York Times story in 2015, when reporters pointed out the fake memorial discrepancy – that it was a lie – Trump offered his usual, useless, illogical responses:

“‘That was a prime site for river crossings,’ Mr. Trump said.  ‘So, if people are crossing the river, and you happen to be in a civil war, I would say that people were shot – a lot of them.’”

In true Trumpian fashion, he repeatedly said that “numerous historians” had told him that the golf club site was known as the River of Blood, but he said he didn’t remember their names.

Then he said the historians had spoken not to him but to “my people.”  But he refused to identify any underlings who might still possess the historians’ names.

Finally, as reporters persisted, telling Trump that local historians had called his memorial a fiction, he responded with:

“‘How would they know that?”  Were they there?”

Well, no, Donald.

Were you?

In summary…

The Bad News:

Now that Trump has declared he’s running for president in 2024, we’re going to see a lot of Trump-related headlines.

The Good News:

Some of those headlines will be great headlines. 

And on November 6, 2024 this will be the greatest headline of them all:

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