They say a conservative is a liberal who got mugged. Columnist Bret Stephens does conservative pieces for the editorial page of the New York Times, and he may be in fact a liberal who woke up and smelled the coffee when he received a death threat on his voice mail. This level of ugliness would wake the dead. New York Times:
“Hey Bret, what do you think? Do you think the pen is mightier than the sword, or that the AR is mightier than the pen?”
He continues: “I don’t carry an AR but once we start shooting you f—ers you aren’t going to pop off like you do now. You’re worthless, the press is the enemy of the United States people and, you know what, rather than me shoot you, I hope a Mexican and, even better yet, I hope a n— shoots you in the head, dead.”
He repeats the racial slur 10 times in a staccato rhythm, concluding with the send-off: “Have a nice day, n— lover.”
Bear in mind that this message came in the wake of Trump’s meeting with A.G. Sulzberger the publisher of the Times and his editorial page editor, James Bennet. The meeting was supposed to be off the record, a consideration which Trump immediately blew off when he tweeted about it, mis-characterizing their conversation, “[We] spent much time talking about vast amounts of Fake News being put out by the media & how that Fake News has morphed into phrase ‘Enemy of the People.’ Sad!”
Sulzberger and Bennet said no such thing. What Sulzberger later said, however, was that “his [Trump’s] language was not just divisive but increasingly dangerous,” and that characterizations of the news media as “the enemy of the people” are “contributing to a rise in threats against journalists and will lead to violence.”
The shooting in the newsroom in Annapolis is believed at this time to be not politically motivated. But just wait.
What can’t be ignored is presidential behavior that might best be described as incitement. Maybe Trump supposes that the worst he’s doing is inciting the people who come to his rallies to give reporters like CNN’s Jim Acosta the finger. And maybe he thinks that most journalists, with their relentless hostility to his personality and policies, richly deserve public scorn.
Yet for every 1,000 or so Trump supporters whose contempt for the press rises only as far as their middle fingers, a few will be people like my caller. Of that few, how many are ready to take the next fatal step? In the age of the active shooter, the number isn’t zero.
Should that happen — when that happens — and journalists are dead because some nut thinks he’s doing the president’s bidding against the fifth column that is the media, what will Trump’s supporters say? No, the president is not coyly urging his supporters to murder reporters, like Henry II trying to rid himself of a turbulent priest. But neither is he the child who played with a loaded gun and knew not what he did.
Trump knows what he’s doing. Privately he likes to talk to reporters, but when he’s in front of his base, it’s professional wrestling time and he puts on a show. The press is his adversary and he smacks them down. Trump himself has used that metaphor, notably in a tweet where he depicted himself stomping a man whose head was a CNN sign.
This tweet was posted to the White House record, as all of his tweets are. This is a part of presidential history.
Trump also tweeted and then deleted a meme showing, again a man dressed in a suit with a CNN sign for a head, being run down by a train.
Both these depravities occurred last year. How much longer before Trump gets somebody killed?