Jarrod Ramos, the who strode into the office of the Capital Gazette and, in cold blood, shot five staffers on that newspaper, was not working under the direct command of Donald Trump. Ramos began his reign of abuse and threatening long before Trump became president.
It’s important to note that. It’s a fact.
It’s important also to note that Trump doesn’t care if journalists are killed. That’s an opinion. Based on fact. He has, after all, declared journalists the enemy of the people and more than once riled his followers into chants of “lock them up.” It was within this charged atmosphere that Ramos seethed, plotted, and ultimately strode into a newspaper office last Thursday, bearing a shotgun, ready for mayhem.
Trump doesn’t care. That’s an opinion, again based on fact, to wit statements he issued afterwards:
1) “I’d like to address the horrific shooting that took place yesterday at Capital Gazette newsroom in Annapolis, Maryland. Journalists, like all Americans, should be free from the fear of being violently attacked while doing their jobs. To the families of the victims there are no words to express our sorrow for your loss. Horrible, horrible event. Horrible thing happened.”
2) “When you’re suffering, we pledge our eternal support, the suffering is so great, I’ve seen some of the people, so great. My government will not rest until we have done everything in our power to reduce violent crime and to protect innocent life. So our warmest best wishes and regrets. A horrific and horrible thing.”
Warmest best wishes and regrets? Horrible thing happened? More boilerplate BS from the master of the same.
I’m not attacking his inelegant language; God knows eloquence departed the Oval Office on the day Obama went home. But what disgusts me is Trump’s utter absence of empathy, his pivot away from an attack on American citizens to the problem of violent crime in general. It’s a plea for law enforcement, wrapped in a perfunctory message of condolence. It’s worse than BS: it’s detached self-interest.
There are no words? Yes there are. There are always words. For someone who once bragged that he knows “the best words,” he continually displays an alarming paucity of them.
If he did know words and felt some compassion, he would have delivered a message like this at the door of the Capital Gazette (less than 40 miles from the White House) on Thursday afternoon.
“Folks, I’ve portrayed the press as my enemy—our enemy—for years now. But that’s politics, and I never meant that any journalists should ever be harmed. From here on in I will demand respect for the reporters who cover the White House and cover my rallies. Our democracy depends on the free distribution of and access to news.
If he had said that or something like it and eschewed the “warmest best wishes” and the foolish repetition of “horrible” and “horrific,” I could have tolerated his lie about doing “everything in our power to reduce violent crime and to protect innocent life.”
But he didn’t. He doesn’t understand. Expecting empathy from Trump is like expecting the bear in The Revenant to have qualms, maybe come back and check on his victim from time to time. Even if it had lived long enough to do so, that bear thinks only of self-preservation.
That, unfortunately, Trump can probably empathize with.