Why must there always be a scapegoat?
The gunpowder smell had not left The Capital Gazette Thursday before individuals beyond the shooter himself were named as ultimately responsible for the incident that left five dead and others wounded at an Annapolis area newspaper.
Isn't it tragic enough that the incident occurred? Apparently not.
Instead, several prominent figures in the media felt the need to make the incident political, to decide — without waiting for the facts — that there had to be additional motivation.
On the one hand, a top editor at Reuters — a person expected to be steeled in objectivity — blamed President Trump.
"This is what happens when @realDonaldTrump calls journalists the enemy of the people. Blood is on your hands, Mr. President. Save your thoughts and prayers for your empty soul," Breakingviews Editor Rob Cox wrote in the deleted tweet, according to TheWrap.
On the other hand, conservative radio and television commentator Sean Hannity seemed to blame it on U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., whose recent words appeared to incite physical attacks on conservatives.
"It's so sad that there are so many sick, demented and evil people in this world," he told radio listeners, as first reported by Media Matters. "It really is sad. You know, imagine you go to work and this is what you're dealing with today, some crazy person comes in and I'm not turning this into a gun debate, I know that's where the media will be in 30 seconds from now. That's not it.
He also said, "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. Really, Maxine?"
But it is unlikely that neither Trump nor Waters knew nor would have heard of Jarrod W. Ramos, the accused shooter, who had filed a 2012 defamation lawsuit against the newspaper and a columnist over a 2011 story that detailed a criminal harassment case against him.
Social media, said to be ascribed to him, included photographs of the columnist and the newspaper's former editor and publisher.
Media reports even detailed the fact that Ramos had mutilated his fingers in an attempt to make his identification more difficult.
Cox — and we wonder if this is the new fallback position for those on the left — blamed his jump to conclusions on emotional stress, the emotional stress of being a member of the Newton, Connecticut, community (scene of a 2012 shooting) and of Thursday's incident being an attack on his colleagues in the press.
We recall that only weeks ago actor Peter Fonda blamed distress over images of illegal immigrant children separated from their parents at the border for causing him to write a sick and twisted tweet about Trump's 12-year-old son, Barron. Although he apologized, he went on to write further vulgar tweets, suggesting Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen "be pilloried in Lafayette Square naked and whipped by passersby" and that the children of White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders perhaps be taken away from her.
Cox wasn't the only media figure to link the shooting to Trump.
Think Progress founder Judd Legum tweeted that "Ramos does appear to be a Trump supporter," but the 2015 tweet he referenced had nothing to do with politics.
As for Hannity, a statement on his website denied he was suggesting Waters was the blame for the tragedy, claiming that "no one can control someone who is intent on conflicting pain and violence" and that it is "unfortunate that some outlets have to stoop to lying to attempt to get ratings and clicks."
Picking sides and laying blame won't bring back the slain journalists. Neither will it help angry people like Ramos deal with their situations. So while we search for workable solutions to the intersection of troubled people and guns, let's at least live by part of the Hippocratic Oath and "do no harm."