It isn't unusual for Donald Trump to harangue what he calls the "fake news." But when the president took to Twitter to condemn journalists as "the enemy of the people" on Thursday, some six months after a gunman had opened fire on staff at a newsroom in Annapolis, Maryland, the tweet struck a chord with at least one reporter. Indeed, a Capital Gazette reporter had a powerful response to Trump's "fake news" tweet.
"Today I did the annual story on holiday decorations at the Governor's residence," Capital Gazette photojournalist Joshua McKerrow tweeted late Thursday in response to Trump's "FAKE NEWS - ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE" tweet.
But this year, the assignment was a bit different for McKerrow. "Every year my reporting partner was Wendi Winters. This year, it was Selene," he tweeted. "Wendi was murdered in June."
"Wendi was no ones [sic] enemy," he continued in his reply to the president.
Five people were killed June 28 when a gunman stormed into the Capital Gazette newsroom in Annapolis and opened fire on employees there. Along with Winters, Gerald Fischman, Rob Hiaasen, John McNamara, and Rebecca Smith were also killed. According to The New York Times, the gunman had a history of conflict with the local Annapolis paper and once attempted to sue them for alleged defamation and invasion of privacy.
"She died in The Capital newsroom on June 28th, shot by a man who wanted to kill every journalist he could," McKerrow tweeted Thursday. "We don't know what set him off yet. After years of silence. What finally pushed him far enough that he loaded his shotgun, drove the 40 minutes from Laurel, parked his car, walked through the busy lobby, barricaded our back exit, blasted the simple fragile glass door."
In remarks made to reporters shortly after the suspected gunman was taken into custody, Anne Arundel County Deputy Police Chief William Krampf called the shooting a "targeted attack" on the paper, per The Baltimore Sun. McKerrow wasn't present in the newsroom at the time of the shooting. According to The Baltimore Sun, he was on his way home from an early morning assignment at the U.S. Naval Academy.
In his response to Trump, McKerrow had a different description for the work the president routinely blasts as "fake news."
"In a way she's still with me, when I do the work that she loved to do," he tweeted. "Journalism. Patriotic, truth telling, American."
Trump published his latest "fake news" tweet on the same day CNN's New York offices were evacuated following a reported bomb threat. While the building was later given the all-clear by authorities, according to The Hill, it was the second time the cable news outlet's office had been evacuated due to a bomb threat in six weeks.
While the president's anti-press rhetoric has led a number of news organizations to collectively push back, McKerrow appeared to suggest Thursday that a continued dedication to journalism may be the best response.
"We'll keep on doing the work," he wrote. "And if we die for it, someone else will pick up the threads, and report on the holiday decorations at the Governor's house. Its [sic] what we do."