There were two mass shootings over the weekend. An avowed white supremacist shot and killed 22 people and injured scores more inside a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, and another equally angry and disturbed individual shot and killed 9 people outside a nightclub in Dayton, Ohio.
The first shooting was a blatant hate crime and act of white nationalist terrorism. The motives behind the second shooting are less clear at this time.
In one of his many responses to these tragedies, President Donald Trump blamed what he calls the “fake news media” (what the rest of us call legitimate mainstream media) for these crimes, saying they’ve “contributed greatly to the anger and rage that has built up over many years.” The Hill reports on it here, and here’s the full tweet:
Let us be clear. Mainstream media, from the New York Times and the Washington Post to the Wall Street Journal and USA Today, from MSNBC to CNN, are not “fake news media.” They are legitimate news outlets, some leaning a little left and some a little right, but all reporting the facts as best they can. They are not fake, the news they report is not fake, there is nothing fake about them. President Trump is wrong in his characterization of these media, deliberately painting any story or media outlet that publishes news he doesn’t like as “fake.” He has done this consistently since taking office and before. His fake claims of “fake news” and “fake news media” have greatly confused the issue of real fake news that has been and continues to be spread over social media.
In this instance, Trump’s blaming the mainstream media for these horrific mass shootings is particularly repugnant, as the president’s own fevered racist-tinged rhetoric has surely inspired some of the many white nationalist terrorists that have perpetrated mass shootings over the past two years. I address Trump’s contribution to the current rise of white nationalism in my book, Exposing Hate: Prejudice, Hatred, and Violence in Action, but suffice to say that our president has enabled the words and actions of white supremacists in both subtle and more overt ways. He has publicly railed against immigrants on numerous occasions, as reported by The Washington Post:
President Trump has relentlessly used his bully pulpit to decry Latino migration as “an invasion of our country.” He has demonized undocumented immigrants as “thugs” and “animals.” He has defended the detention of migrant children, hundreds of whom have been held in squalor. And he has warned that without a wall to prevent people from crossing the border from Mexico, America would no longer be America.
Then there’s the May incident at a rally in Panama City Beach, Florida, where Trump mused, “How do you stop these people? You can’t.” When someone in the crowd responded “Shoot them,” the audience cheered and Trump smiled.
It is not the “fake news media” that is riling up anti-immigrant animus, it is in fact Donald Trump himself. The legitimate news media is not spreading fake news about immigrants, it is Donald Trump spreading lies and conspiracy theories and other fake stories, all designed to fire up his base.
We must stop listening to Trump’s cries of the “fake news media” as the instigators behind everything bad happening in our country today. More often than not, it is Mr. Trump himself who is spreading fake news and inspiring racism and hatred. He cannot run from his own words, and all the lies in the world cannot hide the fact that our president is doing his best to tear our country apart, not bring it together.
Bottom line, don’t believe Mr. Trump’s’ cries of “fake news” inspiring white nationalist terrorism. It is Trump himself who is doing this.