President Donald Trump has once again proven that he has failed at two of the basic duties of his office: bolstering democratic values and helping the country mourn during national tragedies.
When five people were killed at the Capital Gazette, in Annapolis, Mayland, on Thursday, the White House issued a tepid statement offering "thoughts and prayers."
As I noted, these words rang hollow in light of Trump's relentless demonization of the press.
Later, as he walked away from Marine One, reporters shouted a barrage of questions about the incident — asking for condolences, kind words, anything — Trump walked by without saying anything, only flashing a thumbs up. It's possible he couldn't hear the questions, but if he had any interest in the incident and its victims at all, he would have assumed the reporters would want to hear from him about it.
"This is completely out of bounds," said law professor Joyce Alene of the president's disregard for the reporters' questions. "No condolences to the family. No condemnation of murdering members of the press. He just brushes it off."
When he finally issued a statement about the incident on Twitter, it was cold, bare bones, and made no mention of the valuable work local journalists do.
"Prior to departing Wisconsin, I was briefed on the shooting at Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland. My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families," he wrote. "Thank you to all of the First Responders who are currently on the scene."
To her credit, press secretary Sarah Sanders issued a powerful statement: "Strongly condemn the evil act of senseless violence in Annapolis, MD. A violent attack on innocent journalists doing their job is an attack on every American. Our prayers are with the victims and their friends and families."
Yet at the same time, these forceful comments from a White House staffer just emphasize how flat Trump's remarks read.
Meanwhile, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued a statement Thursday night, emphasizing the importance of community journalism and the media's role in democracy. It stood in stark contrast to Trump's rote remarks.
"Journalists tell the stories of our communities, protect democracy, & often put their lives on the line just to do their jobs," Trudeau said on Twitter. "Today’s attack in Annapolis is devastating. Our hearts go out to all the victims & their families."