Journalists indignant after Trump blames shootings on ‘fake news’

US president says gun violence will get worse unless journalism becomes ‘fair, balanced and unbiased’

US President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally on August 1, 2019, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
US President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally on August 1, 2019, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Journalists on Monday criticized US President Donald Trump after he appeared to blame the news media for the epidemic of gun violence that has swept the United States in recent years.

Tweeting in the aftermath of this weekend’s back-to-back mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, in which 29 people were killed and dozens were wounded, Trump wrote, “the Media has a big responsibility to life and safety in our Country.”

“Fake News has contributed greatly to the anger and rage that has built up over many years. News coverage has got to start being fair, balanced and unbiased, or these terrible problems will only get worse!”

Shortly before the El Paso mass shooting on Saturday, the suspect Patrick Crusius was believed to have posted a racist “manifesto” on internet forum 8chan that included passages railing against the “Hispanic invasion” of Texas. In it, he wrote that he was “defending” his country “from cultural and ethnic replacement brought on by an invasion.” The threat of foreign invasion by migrants intent on displacing white people is a common trope in white nationalist circles.

The motive in the Ohio shooting has not yet been established.

In response to Trump’s accusation, the New York Times’s Jonathan Lemire tweeted an article referencing a rally at which Trump was filmed chuckling after an audience member called for shooting migrants.

Angelo Carusone of the left-leaning media watchdog Media Matters for America posted a number of videos from Fox News, the US president’s preferred outlet, showing right-wing media figures decrying what they described as a migrant “invasion.”

Others, such as The Daily Beast’s Sam Stein, said that “in a way” Trump was right.

“The media should reckon with how it amplifies Trump’s racism,” he tweeted. “It should debate the merits of airing live footage of him laughing at his rally goers calling for shooting migrants. It should be more aggressive fact checking his lies about immigration.”

In recent weeks, the US president has issued highly critical tweets about four women of color who serve in Congress, embroiling his administration in an ongoing controversy over his views on race.

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