National Commentary

Printer’s Ink in Their Spilled Blood

With the systematic, calculated, premeditated cold blooded murder of five honest, good old fashioned journalists at an Annapolis, Maryland, daily newspaper last week, U.S. journalists became the first class of U.S. citizens to be gunned down after such a fashion in the context of this President’s hateful, repeated incitements against them as “enemies of the people.”

Let there be no doubt about it, the undeniable increase in hate crimes in the U.S. in the last year, including the wanton and horrific murders in the Annapolis newsroom, can and must be laid right at this President’s feet.

As many bad and vindictive thoughts as people may carry from time to time, it is when they are urged to take their clues from someone in the highest corridors of power who they see sanctioning their worst fantasies that idle anger turns to calculated mass murder.

There is a very ugly climate in the nation right now, and it owes itself directly to this President. He is fomenting it, he is egging it on. He is determined that hate becomes this nation’s mood.

He wants to be the Big Brother in Orwell’s 1984 whose huge face comes onto theater screens to whip mass audiences into a fury of rage against his enemies, and then who melt in heaving weepings of love for their totalitarian master. Trump is going for this scenario, and as it deepens, Americans who’ve seen him point his gnarly finger at his, and their, ostensible arch enemies, the press, think about how they can show their love for this monster by cooking up their own means to hurt them.

I fear for the safety of all my colleagues in the journalism industry right now. A level of irrational rage has been unleashed that is going to be very difficult to defuse.

The filthy, contemptuous hate mail that has been roiling over the Internet since last Thursday’s murders, not against the assailant, but against journalists everywhere who these degenerates contend deserve a similar fate, is terrifying.

We know it is not this President, alone, who is entirely responsible for this, although he must bear a great guilt. It is every criminal oligarch and their allies who’ve cooked up a social engineering scenario in the U.S. to torch democracy from within.

The enraged fools who are hopping around with their shotguns and Confederate flags have been convinced they are the defenders of freedom, but it could not be further from the truth.

America’s experiment in democracy was not born of such anarchistic, supersitution-laden, dehumanizing vandalism, not for a minute. But the GOP, Freedom Works and their grasstops minions, including those disgusting radio talk show fiends inciting them daily and the oh-so-hypocritical, fires of hell-bound so-called evangelical leaders, are contributing to this nihilistic mass screed together.

Yes, it makes sense that the masterminds of such irrational frenzy and rage would direct their demonic hordes against those who’re the workhorses of a free press in America, as imperfect and compromised as too many of them, especially working for the corporate-led major organizations, may be.

Democracy and a free press go hand in hand. You can’t have one without the other, and most ordinary folks who find their calling in working as a journalist recognize this at a very fundamental level. They are seldom pretentious about it, but they are uncommonly loyal and dedicated to their craft.

I recognized everyone of the five faces of the victims last week’s mass murder in Annapolis. None considered themselves celebrities or superstars. They were all engaged in the almost always unglamorous nitty-gritty of reporting the news. I’ve known their ilk all my life, in middle school when with a friend I founded a homeroom newspaper, high school and college, at my hometown daily, at my first, second and third jobs, and so on.

The term for it is “born with printer’s ink in your veins,” which made those at the Annapolis’ paper’s vow to get out the “damn paper” the very next day, ring so true and so emotionally pure.

Such people, and the thousands like them, are the ones who will fight for your democracy, more than anyone else.


Nicholas Benton may be emailed at