In the middle of the night, with no notification, update or clarification, the New York Times made significant changes to a story on two inspectors general calling for a criminal investigation into Hillary Clinton's email use — to no longer impugn the Democrat front-runner directly after the campaign complained.

The original story opened with the statement that two inspectors general have asked the Justice Department to open a criminal investigation "into whether Hillary Rodham Clinton mishandled sensitive government information on a private email account she used as secretary of state," according to Politico.

The clause that replaced it no longer delineates Clinton as the target of the probe, stating that the inspectors general are merely asking for an inquiry "into whether sensitive government information was mishandled in connection with the personal email account Hillary Rodham Clinton used as secretary of state."

Along with the lede, the headline of the story and its URL were also changed, from "Criminal Inquiry Sought in Hillary Clinton's Use of Email," to "Criminal Inquiry Is Sought in Clinton Email Account," Politico reports.

The changes were "a response to complaints we received from the Clinton camp that we thought were reasonable, and we made them," said Michael Schmidt, one of the reporters who wrote the article.

"Contrary to the initial story, which has already been significantly revised, she followed appropriate practices in dealing with classified materials," Nick Merrill, a spokesman for Clinton, said in an email to Politico.

Clinton's private email account contained "hundreds of potentially classified emails," the inspectors general said in their report urging the Department of Justice to open a criminal investigation. The department has not yet decided whether it will do so.

Pundits on both sides of the aisle criticized the Times for its middle-of-the-night edits.

"The NYT changed the target of a criminal probe from HRC to those handling her email without a correction?" tweeted Salon's Joan Walsh. "That is an enormous change of meaning. Unbelievable, really."

The liberal site Daily Kos tweeted that the New York Times' new slogan should be: "We can just fix the lede after midnight," while Fox News analyst Monica Crowley wrote that the paper's unexplained changes in favor of Clinton's campaign show the Times is "not even faking it anymore."

"This is [something] you can't do in the middle of the night without explanation," tweeted NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen.