On Friday’s edition of New Day, CNN chief political snalyst, John Avlon presented his commentary on the recent Capital Gazette shooting. In his analysis, Avlon appeared to suggest that President Trump’s rhetoric towards the American news media was in some way responsible for the shooting saying, “And this rhetoric, while not directly responsible, is really ratcheting up threats against journalists that we deal with on a daily basis. It is described as an epidemic.”
Avlon is refering to President Trump referring to the media as the "enemy of the America People" In the second hour of the program he expanded upon this point saying:
This is the deadliest newsroom shooting in American history. And he did it with a shotgun. We have had -- this paper has been around since 1727. We have had the second amendment for most of that time. Something is different. Something has changed. When the young woman in the newsroom said I don't want your thoughts and prayers, I appreciate them, but they're not enough. It’s also worth reflecting on the fact as we do after many of these mass shootings, there are unhinged, unstable individuals in every country in the world. But this is the only country where things like this happen on a regular basis. Yes, there was "Charlie Hebdo". That appears to be a different sort of newsroom attack. But we need to keep our pen on the ball and realize what’s happening to our civic conversation is different. The pen is still mightier than the sword. But, what is happening is different, and that should require a little bit of culpability, conscience and soul searching on the folks ratcheting up the rhetoric to make people think the press is the enemy of the American people.
From what we know about the shooting, the suspect had a long history of grievance with this specific local newspaper. Placing blame for this monstrous action on political rhetoric follows the meida pattern of blaming rhetoric for violence if that rhetoric comes from someone on the right.
When Gabrielle Giffords was shot in 2011, members of the media were quick to put blame on the rhetoric on the Tea Party movement and Sarah Palin. However, when Congressman Steve Scalise was shot last year by a rabid Bernie Sanders supporter, the media correctly did not blame the shooting on Sander’s hostile rhetoric towards Republicans.
The only person responsible for yesterday’s tragedy is the perpetrator himself. It isn’t Sarah Palin’s fault that Gabrielle Giffords was shot. It isn’t Bernie Sander’s fault that Steve Scalise was shot. It isn’t President Trump’s fault that this shooting occurred yesterday.