On Thursday, a madman claimed the lives of five journalists in an Annapolis, Maryland newsroom. It was a disgusting act, one allegedly perpetrated by a man who had an animus against the paper and wasn’t afraid to express it on social media before the massacre.
So, who’s responsible for this? According to at least one White House correspondent, a Reuters editor and countless other liberal opinion journalists, the president.
First, the details, which we all mostly know at this point: On Thursday, Jarrod W. Ramos killed five people at the Annapolis Capital Gazette, a newspaper whose reporters he had harassed via Twitter.
Reuters reported that Ramos, 38, allegedly entered the office, “firing through a glass door with a 12-gauge shotgun, hunting for victims and spraying the newsroom with gunfire as reporters hid under desks and begged for help on social media.”
Almost immediately, Trump issued a statement of condolence on social media.
Prior to departing Wisconsin, I was briefed on the shooting at Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland. My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. Thank you to all of the First Responders who are currently on the scene.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 28, 2018
That’s when Andrew Feinberg — a White House correspondent and managing editor for Breakfast Media and former reporter for Russian-funded propaganda site Sputnik Media — decided that it was time to blame the president for the shooting.
You caused this, Mr. President.
— Andrew Feinberg (@AndrewFeinberg) June 28, 2018
Feinberg later tweeted that “I’ve fully explained that i don’t think Donald Trump made someone pick up a gun. What he did was create a climate in which someone nursing a grudge against the press could feel emboldened to act” in response to a story by The Federalist on the reporter’s tweet. He also tweeted a link to a Huffington Post piece about disgusting hate mail/tweets they’d been receiving and whether they could be considered threats.
There are several problems with this rationalization if you’re far gone enough to buy it. The first is that Mr. Ramos’ animus against the Capital Gazette went back much, much longer than the Trump presidency. In fact, the paper considered pressing charges after a barrage of Twitter hate messages against their reporters back in 2013. According to Fox News, the police report explains that the paper’s management decided against the charges because it “was described as putting a stick in a beehive, which the Capital Newspaper representatives do not wish to do.”
As for the Huffington Post’s piece, which repurposes their worst hate messages with the tacit insinuation that the “environment” Trump has created is somehow responsible for this, what they neglect to mention is the fact that the internet makes mentally unstable people with political grudges more likely to vent their hatred on both sides of the political spectrum.
We receive hateful messages that would make your stomach churn, too, and we received them long before Donald Trump announced his run for the presidency. We don’t blame Nancy Pelosi for “creating a climate” of hatred because, let’s face it, these violent delights have existed as long as the internet has.
My first death threat for something I wrote came back in 1998, before I was an adult, regarding a piece I had published on Geocities about the anime series “Sailor Moon.” Is Donald Trump to blame for this? Does the president have a position on “Sailor Moon” — and was it responsible for someone emailing me the name of the town where I grew up and how they were coming to kill me nearly 20 years ago, back during the Clinton presidency?
There’s another problem with this theory, which is that Ramos was hardly your average random mentally ill internet user. In addition to the 2013 police report, WBAL-TV reports that a woman who Ramos had allegedly stalked years before had told police he “will be your next mass shooter.” Again, we see another case where the dots probably weren’t connected — and none of those dots had anything to do with Trump.
Feinberg, sadly, wasn’t the only media member espousing this theory of blame.
The shooting today in the Capital Gazette newsroom in Annapolis, Maryland cannot reasonably be separated from the President's mission to villainize the press as "the enemy of the American people."
— Lauren Duca (@laurenduca) June 28, 2018
When you have a president who says the press is "enemy of the people" is it surprising that someone shoots up a newspaper office? @realDonaldTrump has blood on his hands. He loves inciting people even after seeing the consequences in places like Charlottesville. #CapitalGazette
— Cenk Uygur (@cenkuygur) June 28, 2018
Trump did NOT write this. Note correct punctuation, capitalization, beginning a sentence with “before going any further,” and correct name of news organization rather than calling them the “enemy of the American people.”@realDonaldTrump has blood on his tiny little hands. https://t.co/TmbOmC15BL
— Heather Whaley (@HeatherWhaley) June 30, 2018
Most of these, of course, came from opinion journalists. In one case, the vitriol didn’t: Reuters Breakingviews Editor Rob Cox said that he “responded emotionally and inappropriately” when he tweeted that the shooting is what “happens when @realDonaldTrump calls journalists the enemy of the people. Blood is on your hands, Mr. President. Save your thoughts and prayers for your empty soul.”
“Though my comments were entirely personal, they were not in keeping with the Reuters Trust Principles and my own standards for letting facts, not snap judgments, guide my understanding,” Cox wrote in his apology.
Note the wording. “(E)motionally and inappropriately.” But not necessarily contrary to what Cox personally believes, even if he claims that he “disavowed” the remarks.
“Inappropriate” is an insufficient word for these tweets, but there’s few words sufficient to do justice to everything about this shooting — not only the sickening act itself, but the reaction of a media that demands an explanation that fits their narrative.
These were just a few journalists, but the fact that Rob Cox still has a job speaks volumes. He, at least, apologized — which is why he’s still employed. As for Andrew Feinberg and the sundry other opinion journalists that parroted these rebarbative blame-Trump snap judgments, they won’t ever have to.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.