Reuters Writer Blames Trump for Capital Shooting: 'Save Your Thoughts and Prayers for Your Empty Soul'


A Reuters editor issued a retraction and lengthy apology for “jumping to conclusions” in the aftermath of Thursday’s mass shooting at a Maryland newspaper office.

Though police have since said they believe the suspected gunman appeared to specifically target the Capital Gazette newsroom in Annapolis, the social media speculation began long before details were available.

For Reuters Breakingviews Editor Rob Cox, the tragedy led him to recall President Donald Trump’s frequently combative rhetoric aimed at the news media, as Red State reported.

In a tweet he soon deleted and denounced, he wrote that the shooting is “what happens when @realDonaldTrump calls journalists the enemy of the people.”

Cox went on to write that the president has blood on his hands.

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“Save your thoughts and prayers for your empty soul,” he wrote.

The editor was almost immediately inundated with backlash, which he described as “fair enough” in a subsequent tweet before further explaining his remarks.

“Vilifying any category of people – journalists, migrants, conservatives, liberals etc – can incite violence,” he wrote. “This one hits close to home. Genuinely saddened.”

Hours later, Cox posted a four-part apology offering additional context and some reflective thoughts after considering the impact of his controversial comments.

“When I saw the news today that a mass shooter had targeted the employees of a newspaper in Maryland I responded emotionally and inappropriately,” Cox wrote.

Describing his initial reaction as “entirely personal,” he acknowledged that it did not comply with “the Reuters Trust Principles and (his) own standards for letting facts, not snap judgments, guide (his) understanding.”

Do you think this Reuters writer crossed the line?

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Cox cited his own experience as a community member impacted by a mass shooting as a possible influence in his visceral remarks.

“My experience as a member of the community of Newtown, Connecticut in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook tragedy, combined with the possibility that my colleagues in the press were being targeted, pushed me into a state of emotional distress,” he wrote.

He concluded with an apology for the initial tweet, which he said he “quickly deleted and … disavowed,” adding that he was “especially remorseful” if his comments “did anything to distract from the thoughts and love we must send to the community of Annapolis.”

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Chris Agee is an American journalist with more than 15 years of experience in a wide range of newsrooms.
Chris Agee is an American journalist with more than 15 years of experience in a variety of newsroom settings. After covering crime and other beats for newspapers and radio stations across the U.S., he served as managing editor at Western Journalism until 2017. He has also been a regular guest and guest host on several syndicated radio programs. He lives in Phoenix, Arizona, with his wife and son.
Texas Press Association, Best News Writing - 2012
Bachelor of Arts, Journalism - Averett University
Professional Memberships
Online News Association
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Entertainment