This afternoon a gunman opened fire at a newspaper office in Annapolis, Maryland, resulting in multiple deaths. This comes amid Donald Trump’s escalating rhetoric against the media in recent days at his rallies. Trump has spent his entire time in politics encouraging his supporters to commit violent acts against various people, while steering their rage toward whatever reporters were in the room.
We still don’t know all of the details of today’s shooting. But Donald Trump has consistently tried to create an environment in which violence is acceptable against anyone who opposes him, and reporters are enemy number one. It is impossible to overlook the connection between his rhetoric and today’s murder of American journalists. In addition, his longtime unofficial surrogate Milo Yiannopoulos called for “vigilante squads to start gunning journalists down” just to days ago. So now that Trump has (at least indirectly) managed to get a bunch of reporters killed, how is he responding?
Here’s the ignorant and (probably intentionally) tone-deaf tweet that Trump posted just now: “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.” That’s right, he’s using his usual “thoughts and prayers” rhetoric, which he and his apologists consistently use as an excuse for refusing to strengthen gun control measures after each mass shooting.
So far that’s all Donald Trump has had to say. But this mass shooting tragically encapsulates his ongoing violent rhetoric and anti-media rhetoric. Newspaper offices don’t get shot up. He’s strategically and purposely created an environment ripe for this kind of shooting. He is, morally and criminally, at least partially responsible for today’s murder of reporters. Lock him up.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report