Capital Gazette staff dedicated to their calling
They put out a newspaper. Hours after seeing at least five of their co-workers shot to death and several more badly injured in their newsroom, members of the Annapolis Capital Gazette worked with journalists from sister papers to produce a newspaper for their readers. That's their calling. It isn't what they do. It is who they are. I have tremendous respect for the Capital Gazette staff and their dedication to their craft and their calling. When the president calls them "the enemy of the people," he shows his ignorance. Journalists are the people. They work with and for the people. Every morning when they head into the office, making their communities better places to live is the goal. Of course, the president doesn't like the media because many of their stories point out his ties to Russia, list his campaign staffers who have been indicted or are already being sentenced or demonstrate how he is using his office for his own benefit. Donald Trump dodged a figurative bullet in Thursday's shooting in Annapolis. Although the shooter seemed to have been a Trump supporter based on a few older tweets, Trump's animosity toward the press didn't seem to add to the man's motive. The shooter had a history with the Capital Gazette. He was obviously not well mentally. After all, he mutilated his own fingertips so he couldn't be easily identified after committing his crime. But Trump knows that he came very close to having literal blood on his hands. You could hear the concern from his White House spokesperson after the shooting. Lindsay Walters said, "There is no room for violence, and we stick by that. Violence is never tolerated in any form, no matter whom it is against." What does "no matter whom it is against" mean? They don't even stand for mass murders in a newsroom? Why would you have to say no matter whom it is against? If those are your thoughts, I would hate to hear your prayers. I've faced multiple threats in my career in journalism. Some were more credible than others. Many of us have. The problem is, as seems to be the case with the shooter in Annapolis, a person doesn't have to be credible to be dangerous. When this happened, police across the country spent extra resources to make sure that this act of violence didn't create copycats who would follow suit. I asked for extra patrol at our location, as well. There was no active threat against our newspaper, but I knew when friends and family members saw what happened today, they would be worried. Mothers called to make sure their sons were safe and paying attention. Friends sent texts to check in. I wanted them to be able to reassure their loved ones that we were being cautious. We have to be cautious because we have a president who is trying to turn our country and our communities against us. Do I believe it is working? Walking past a Sunday School class in my own church last Sunday morning, I heard a man teaching his class that they are in a culture war. He said they didn't have to support President Trump, but he does. Then he admonished his class not to believe what "they read in the papers" about the president. I would say the propaganda is finding fertile ground. Trump and his staff know they got lucky Thursday. He has spent three years demonizing the press for political gain. He put a bullseye on all of our backs. When initial reports came in, his words had to echo in his ears, knowing that his irresponsible and reckless words could have helped influence a mass murderer. This has to stop. The president's staff, members of Congress and others who have influence must convince this president that he has to end his dangerous rhetoric before he ends up with blood on his hands. Words matter. Trump's words put real people at risk, people who are doing their jobs. No president since Richard Nixon has had this relationship with the media. I'm not sure that's a comparison any president wants.