Newspaper killings an attack on all Americans

Newspaper killings an attack on all Americans



The killing of five staffers at an Annapolis, Md., newspaper is an attack on all of us.

By us, we mean not just journalists — but all Americans. For the foundation of our country depends on a free press able to probe and report without fear of retribution.

In totalitarian countries, reporters are killed or simply disappear, never to be heard from again. But not here. That’s not supposed to happen in the United States. That’s what makes us different.

Similar words came directly from the Twitter account of the president’s press secretary on Thursday.

“Strongly condemn the evil act of senseless violence in Annapolis, MD,” wrote Sarah Huckabee Sanders. “A violent attack on innocent journalists doing their job is an attack on every American. Our prayers are with the victims and their friends and families.”

We couldn’t agree more. It’s time for Sanders’ boss to walk her talk, to embrace the First Amendment.

An editorial writer, an editor, two reporters and a sales assistant at the Capital Gazette were gunned down. Jarrod Ramos, who had a grudge against the newspaper for its past coverage of him, faces five counts of murder.

There’s no evidence he was motivated by Trump’s attacks on the news media. But the environment the president has created makes us targets.

What may be the first mass shooting of journalists in the United States occurred midday Thursday. It took Trump a full day to acknowledge that journalists were involved.

“This attack shocked the conscience of the nation and filled our hearts with grief,” he finally said. “Journalists, like all Americans, should be free from the fear of being violently attacked while doing their jobs.”

It’s true. All Americans should be free from such fear. But Trump doesn’t seem to appreciate the special danger posed when journalists are threatened. For it’s not just about the taking of a life, it’s about threatening the free press that’s a cornerstone of our democracy.

Unfortunately, to Trump, we’re an imposition, obstacle and enemy — or as he put it, an “enemy of the people.” He calls us out at rallies, like some circus act for his supporters to attack. And in some cases they do.

Yes, journalists do make mistakes. We’re human like everyone else. But we in the mainstream media are not purveyors of “fake news.” To us, facts matter, deeply.

Yet Trump has called journalists “scum,” “horrible people” and “absolutely dishonest.” “I would never kill them, but I do hate them,” he told a rally in 2015. “And some of them are such lying, disgusting people.”

Trump made the comment when addressing controversy about Vladimir Putin’s praise for his candidacy, and allegations about the Russian president’s use of killings to intimidate journalists.

“They said he’s killed reporters,” Trump said. “And I don’t like that. I’m totally against that.” But three years later, our president still demonizes reporters.



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