It’s been less than a week since a lone gunman murdered four journalists and a newspaper sales representative in the Capital Gazette newsroom in Annapolis, Md.
That incident was at least partially motived by the shooter’s long-running obsession with the paper which, in 2011, ran a story called “Jarrod wants to be your friend” documenting a Facebook interaction gone wrong.
The shooter – Jarrod Ramos – sued the paper for defamation, but the suit was ultimately dismissed because, to quote the judge in the case, “there is nothing [that] proves anything that was published was false.”
In other words: The story was factual.
Late last week, Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley registered a request, asking Donald Trump to order American flags be lowered to half-staff across the country in honor of the victims.
On Monday, the Baltimore Sun reported that Trump had denied the request. Buckley said this:
Obviously, I’m disappointed, you know? … Is there a cutoff for tragedy? This was an attack on the press. It was an attack on freedom of speech. It’s just as important as any other tragedy.
By Tuesday, the White House had reversed its decision. Apparently, there was a “miscommunication” – and yes, the scare quotes are there for a reason.
According to White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters, Trump agreed “as soon as [he] heard about the request from the mayor.”
Sarah Huckabee Sanders called Buckley on Monday night to inform him of the decision.
Buckley was not amused. Here’s what he said on Tuesday in Annapolis:
We waited all of Saturday, all of Sunday. We understood maybe there was some communications problems. We waited all day Monday and didn’t hear anything.
You can draw your own conclusions there.
Well on Tuesday evening, just hours after acquiescing the Buckley’s request and just hours before Independence Day, Donald Trump tweeted this:
It is impossible to write that off to Trump being tone deaf. As oblivious as the President most certainly is when it comes to decorum, it is entirely unrealistic to believe that he did not realize how bad the optics are around tweeting that in the wake of the last week’s shooting in Annapolis and on the heels of a days-long delay in agreeing to fly the flags at half-mast to honor the victims.
Simply put: that is pure, unadulterated malice.
On Tuesday afternoon, speaking to reporters, Sarah Huckabee Sanders said this:
[Trump has] a great deal of respect for the press.
Oh, wait, just one more thing:
— Breanne Deppisch (@breanne_dep) November 6, 2016