Two US journalists face discipline for saying Trump influenced newspaper shooter

American journalists say Donald Trump's anti-media stance influenced shooter

The Capital Gazette published its edition despite five staff being killed. Image: Getty

Friday, June 29, 2018

Two US journalists are facing discipline from their employers for claiming Donald Trump may have influenced the shooter who killed five journalists.

Jarrod Ramos has been charged with five counts of murder after journalists at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis were shot.

Ramos’s Twitter account, which has now been removed, showed him pledging support to Trump and criticising the Capital Gazette for calling the president ‘unqualified’.

He insinuated that the newspaper could be sued, similarly to how Trump sued Univision for $500 million (£379 million) in 2016.

No motive established

Two reporters, Rob Cox of Reuters and Conor Berry of the Massachussetts newspaper The Republican, have removed tweets insinuating Trump influenced Ramos, and apologised for their statements. They may be reprimanded by their employers.

Mr Cox said he responded "emotionally and inappropriately" and Mr Berry resigned.

But other tweets claiming Ramos may have been a Trump supporter remain online, despite no motive for the shooting having been established.

Judd Legum, the founder of left-wing news site ThinkProgress, tweeted: “Shooting suspect Jarrod Ramos does appear to be a Trump supporter. Tweeted positively about a big Trump lawsuit against the media.”

Writer Amy Siskind, who has been strongly critical of Trump and the Republican party, also lambasted the president for remaining quiet on the shooting.

The president has tweeted his “thoughts and prayers” but ignored reporters outside the White House when they asked for his comments as he walked past.

Others referenced a tweet Trump sent in 2017, calling the mainstream media “the enemy of the American people”.

Comedian Dan Regan, who has also tweeted anti-gun sentiments, shared a picture of an apparent Trump supporter wearing a t-shirt with the slogan 'Rope, Tree, Journalist'.

Ramos has been questioned but his motive is as yet unknown, and there are no reports to suggest authorities are investigating Ramos' political leanings.

Long-running feud

Ramos had a long-running feud with the publication and a personal vendetta against them. In 2011 he pleaded guilty to criminal harassment and five days later the case appeared in The Capital, one of Capital Gazette's publications.

Months later a Twitter account under Ramos' name began tweeting about Capital Gazette after his conviction. He then filed a defamation case against the publication, but a judge dismissed it in 2012 on the basis that "there is absolutely not one piece of evidence, or an assertion by you that the statement was false."

Ramos's Twitter bio said he "created this page to defend myself. Now I'm suing the s**t out of half of AA County and making corpses of corrupt careers and corporate entities."

Right-wing advocate Milo Yiannopoulos, who is a friend of Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon, has also come under fire for saying he couldn't "wait for vigilante squads to start gunning journalists down on sight".

He made the comment via text message to a reporter a day before Ramos' attack.

'Scoring political points'

Yiannopoulos, who is also a former editor at right-wing news site Breitbart, responded to the accusations that he could have influenced Ramos, saying he made the comment in private.

“You’re about to see a raft of news stories claiming that I am responsible for inspiring the deaths of journalists,” he wrote.

“The bodies are barely cold and left-wing journalists are already exploiting these deaths to score political points against me.

“It’s disgusting. I regret nothing I said, though of course like any normal person I am saddened to hear of needless death”.

“The truth, as always, is the opposite of what the media tells you. I sent a troll about ‘vigilante death squads’ as a *private* response to a few hostile journalists who were asking me for comment.”