Members of the media immediately began blaming President Trump and his supporters for the deadly shooting at a local newspaper building in Annapolis on Thursday, well before any of the facts had emerged.
Reuters editor Rob Cox tweeted, “This 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.”
After receiving backlash for the tweet, Cox deleted it and issued an apology.
“I am sorry for my comments, which I quickly deleted and have disavowed, and especially remorseful if they did anything to distract from the thoughts and love we must send to the community of Annapolis,” Cox said.
Fair enough to call me out for jumping to a conclusion about the motives here. Vilifying any category of people - journalists, migrants, conservatives, liberals etc - can incite violence. This one hits close to home. Genuinely saddened. https://t.co/pyr3HTFzbQ— Rob Cox (@rob1cox) June 28, 2018
But the Reuters editor was not alone in his instantaneous blaming of the president.
One MSNBC panelist, Clint Watts, pointed to the country’s supposed “hatred towards the media.”
“It is a unique time in our country’s history; we have open hatred towards the media, fake news, this is the era of it," Watts said. "We hear lots of discussion about it. We had a figure just show up in the last 48 hours, I believe, that said they would be excited if vigilante squads would shoot down reporters essentially on site,” he continued.
Former MSNBC host and current Young Turks host Cenk Uygur tweeted that Trump “has blood on his hands.”
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
Uygur was one of many to use this phrase when referencing the president, as Yahoo’s Mike Williams also tweeted it.
Donald Trump has repeatedly and angrily branded the press as a threat, as the enemy, as a danger to America.— Mike P Williams 🌹 (@Mike_P_Williams) June 28, 2018
Someone just shot up a newsroom and killed journalists.
He has blood on his hands.
Williams even claimed Melania Trump was “complicit” in the shooting.
Laura Duca of Teen Vogue claimed the tragedy cannot be separated from Trump’s rhetoric.
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
Mikko Alanne of National Geographic said the shooting was a “direct consequence” of President Trump and the Republican party.
Will no one in the Republican Party have the courage to call for Donald Trump to resign the Presidency? This man has ceaselessly propagated hate against journalists for years, calling them the enemy of the American people. Today's killings are the direct consequence.— Mikko Alanne (@MikkoAlanne) June 28, 2018
Others put the blame on the conservatives in general, citing their criticism of the press.
To my right-leaning friends and acquaintances who with increasing frequently feel free to make "fake news" jokes, that will go from mildly insulting to downright offensive in the wake of journalists shot dead at their jobs. We'll see what the motive of the shooter is, but enough https://t.co/doiaArMwyq— Steve Daniels (@stevedaniels27) June 28, 2018
Police later reported that the shooter's motive didn't appear to be political at all, but rather stemmed from an ongoing feud he'd had with the Capital Gazette since 2011. He also appeared to be a very mentally unhinged man who'd reportedly stalked at least one woman for over a year.