The New York Post on Thursday said an employee was responsible for posts on its website and Twitter account that included racist, violent and sexually explicit headlines about Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and President Joe Biden.
The posts were removed shortly thereafter, and the News Corp.-owned New York tabloid newspaper’s website was operating as usual by midmorning. The Post is one of the top newspapers based on its circulation, and one of the most visited news websites, the Press Gazette reported in 2021 and 2022, respectively. It has 2.8 million followers on Twitter.
“The New York Post’s investigation indicates that the unauthorized conduct was committed by an employee, and the employee has been terminated,” a spokesperson said in a statement Thursday. “This morning, we immediately removed the vile and reprehensible content from our website and social media accounts.”
The spokesperson earlier Thursday said the posts were the result of a hack and an investigation was underway.
The headlines appeared with photos but links that didn’t lead to articles. In addition to violent and explicit headlines targeting Biden and his son Hunter and Ocasio-Cortez, there was also a racist headline regarding New York City Mayor Eric Adams and a post targeting unionized teachers.
Representatives for the president and Ocasio-Cortez didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
New York Republican gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin and incumbent Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul were also mentioned in explicit headlines as part of the hack.
“The New York Post has long fostered an ugly, toxic conversation on their front pages and social accounts, but these posts are more disgusting and vile than usual,” a Hochul representative said Thursday. “The New York Post needs to immediately explain how this reprehensible content was made public. While the Post has made its preferences very clear in the New York Governor’s race, there is no room for this violent, sexist rhetoric in our politics. We demand answers.”
A representative for Zeldin didn’t immediately respond to comment.
“These vile, racist, and sexist comments have no place in public discourse, even by those unlawfully hacking a Twitter account,” said the press secretary for New York City Mayor Eric Adams, who was also targeted in a racist headline.
Automattic, the owner and operator of WordPress VIP, the content management system that enables publishing to the New York Post site, said it wouldn’t “comment on active investigations,” nor speak on behalf of the Post.
Last month, U.S. media publication Fast Company shut down its website for roughly a week after hackers gained access to its site and sent out “obscene and racist” push notifications to Apple News users.
At the time, Fast Company said on Twitter its content management system was hacked and impacted its Apple News alerts. The company suspended its website immediately. It later said it retained a global incident response and cybersecurity firm to investigate the matter.
– CNBC’s Stefan Sykes and Jack Stebbins contributed to this article.