UPDATE 1115 GMT: Donald Trump’s allies at Fox have checked the killing of Capital Gazette staff by investigating if the newspaper had an “ideological bent”.
Correspondent Trace Gallagher told viewers that Fox had checked the Gazette’s record and “concluded that it was very much a local newspaper”:
The editorial board doesn’t seem to have any severe ideological bent, so you kind of look toward what’s the M.O., what’s the motive behind something like this, and there’s nothing that jumps out at you that says, “Well, it could possibly be this.”
One observer noted that the remark could imply that attacks on other journalists might be justified by their “ideology”: “Fox was trying to determine if they ‘deserved’ it or not. America 2018.”
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A gunman killed five staff of a Maryland newspaper on Thursday, amid Donald Trump’s repeated verbal attacks on journalists.
Two other employees were wounded when Jarrod W. Ramos, armed with a shotgun and smoke grenades, attacked the newsroom of The Capital Gazette in Annapolis.
Ramos, who was apprehended, has a long-running grudge against the Gazette. He failed in 2013 to win damages from the newspaper after it reported on his guilty plea to charges of criminal harassment two years earlier.
He has no direct connection to Donald Trump or the Trump Administration. However, observers quickly noted the aggressive, anti-press statements of Trump which could foster hatred.
Since taking office in January 2017, Trump has labelled the media the “enemy of the American people”, as purveyors of “fake news”. At a rally on Monday in South Carolina, he sneered at “these fakers” in the opening sentences of his speech: “Look at all those fake newsers back there. Look at them.”
Trump then declared “the opposing networks” as “the enemy, the enemy of the people I call them” (clip from 21:20):
Two weeks ago, Trump lashed out, upset that he was not being universally praised for his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un:
So funny to watch the Fake News, especially NBC and CNN. They are fighting hard to downplay the deal with North Korea. 500 days ago they would have “begged” for this deal-looked like war would break out. Our Country’s biggest enemy is the Fake News so easily promulgated by fools!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 13, 2018
Reporters reworked Trump’s hostility as they offered condolences to the families of victims:
On this horrific day, let's establish that journalists are not "the enemy of the American people," as President Trump has tweeted. Thinking of our colleagues at #CapitalGazette.
— melissa block (@NPRmelissablock) June 28, 2018
Investigative Reporters and Editors tweeted out the text of the First Amendment.
Trump allies quickly lashed out at Democrats in an attempt to shift responsibility. Fox anchor Sean Hannity, a close friend of Trump, targeted Representative Maxine Waters, a favorite target of vilification: “Honestly, I’ve been saying now for days that something horrible’s going to happen because of the rhetoric.”
However, the defense faced the challenge of Tuesday night’s declaration by Milo Yiannopoulos, a protégé of Trump’s former campaign manager and ex-White House Chief of Staff Steve Bannon, “I can’t wait for the vigilante squads to start gunning journalists down on sight.”
As for Trump, he — or his office — issued a tweet of condolence after news of the shootings spread:
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
But Trump was not so forthcoming as he walked across the White House South Lawn.
"Can you please talk to us about the dead reporters in Annapolis?"
“Do you have any words of condolence for the families, Mr. President?”
"Why are you walking away?"
— NBC News (@NBCNews) June 28, 2018