Thursday afternoon, a white male walked into the office of The Capital newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland and killed 5 people. He injured several others before surrendering to the police. The police currently do not know who the man is or what his motives are. He allowed himself to be taken alive. This suggests he is not a disgruntled worker or jilted lover out for revenge.
Still, within hours, Fox News host Sean Hannity knew exactly who to blame: Rep. Maxine Waters.
“You know, as I’ve always said, I mean honestly — I’ve been saying now for days that something horrible was going to happen because of the rhetoric,” Hannity said, as first reported by Media Matters for America. “Really, Maxine? You want people to create — ‘call your friends, get in their faces,’ and Obama said that too. ‘Get in their faces, call them out, call your friends, get protesters, follow them into restaurants and shopping malls,’ and wherever else she said.”
If you're not sure what the connection between Rep. Waters calling for public shunning of Trump administration officials over torturing children and the murder of journalists, allow me to clarify:
It's distinctly possible that the shooter is exactly the MAGA-inspired vigilante that Milo and Trump have been dreaming of. For the last three years, Trump has been whipping his mindless followers into a frenzy. He's been whining about the evils of the free press. Fox News, AM Hate Radio and right wing hate sites have been tilling that soil for decades but Trump really started seeding it with actionable hate. Absolutely no one will be surprised if the shooter declares he was striking a blow against the "lugenpresse" in the name of Trump's America. Hannity and other right wing scumbags are now furiously trying to build a narrative where Waters is guilty of...something to distract us in case this turns out to be the case. It's disgusting. It's irresponsible. It's...uncivil.
But will the press clutch its pearls again and faint over how uncivil our political discourse has become? Don't hold your breath. The civility game is strictly unidirectional. They will never cast any shade at Sean Hannity for this because that's not how this works.
Amanda Marcotte of Salon put up a series of tweets that explain it perfectly but the gist of it is that we are in an abusive relationship and the press demands to know why we keep making Hannity and the right wing hit us. When we fight back in any way whatsoever, the press is aghast that now "both sides" are acting uncivil. This functionally gives the right leave to act like animals at all times without consequence.
Sean Hannity will face no consequences for what he's done tonight or his lack of civility; something that was so precious just a week ago. The same people in the press who regularly tell us that we shouldn't politicize mass shooting until (insert arbitrary amount of time here) won;t even think to scold Hannity for immediately politicizing a tragedy before we even know the why of it. If and/or when he turns out to be wrong, Hannity won't have to apologize because why should he? His followers won't care and no one in the press will so much as cast the tiniest bit of side eye at him. After all, there's a liberal somewhere saying something objectionable and, goddammit, we need more civility!