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Terror in America

Terror can be described as "a state of intense fear." Or more specifically, "violent action or threats designed to cause fear among ordinary people, in order to achieve political aims." 

Saturday's attack in El Paso meets both definitions. The FBI has a more specific definition, but it fits too. Federal authorities are treating this as a case of domestic terrorism. And it's not the only case. A number of other recent mass shootings in America also meet both definitions. Investigators haven't said much about the motives of the attacker in Dayton yet, but he certainly elicited terror there as well.

We're witnessing a change in how these types of attacks are talked about. The "CBS Evening News" called this weekend "TERROR IN AMERICA." The lead story on right now is titled "El Paso is what white nationalist terror looks like. America isn't ready." The lead editorial in Monday's NYT says "mass shootings like the one in El Paso should be condemned by America's leaders as terrorism."

Sunday night's homepage headlines "A deadly day in America" "2 cities, 13 hours, 29 dead" "Back-to-Back Shooting Massacres Shake a Bewildered Nation to Its Core" is leading with a Trump quote: "We have to get it stopped"

How Anderson Cooper began Sunday night's broadcast

"Tonight in El Paso, Texas," he said, "a 2-month-old baby boy has no idea his life has changed forever. His name is Paul. He was found under the body of his mother. Her blood had spilled on him. Some of his fingers were broken but he was alive. He is, it seems, alive because his mother Jordan shielded him from the bullets that killed her and the bullets that killed her husband Andre. They were in the Walmart shopping for school supplies." Read more about the family here...

About the "manifesto"

"Across the globe this year, white supremacists have left manifestos referencing a racist conspiracy theory" (so-called "white replacement") to justify their attacks," The Daily Beast's Kelly Weill writes. They're trying to "get others to follow their examples."

Most media outlets approached Saturday's racist anti-immigrant essay with an abundance of caution. Outlets like CNN quoted from it sparingly. The Drudge Report was widely criticized for publishing the text. But there's no ignoring the reality that some of the manifesto's rhetoric, namely the term "invasion," has been repeated by President Trump. Over and over again. The AP says the manifesto's anti-immigration language "mirrors some of his own." WaPo says Trump's rhetoric "looms over" the El Paso massacre. And one of the NYT's front page headlines on Monday says the essay is "an echo of Trump's language..."

Cloudfare cuts off 8chan

The racist essay was first posted on an 8chan message board. CNN noted that El Paso was "at least the third atrocity linked to 8chan this year." Fredrick Brennan, the site's founder, told the NYT and WaPo that the site should be shut down.

"The problem," Brennan told CNN's Sara Sidner, "is the current administrators are running it in a way that is indefensible. If it's going to keep on like this it should be shut down. I don’t want to pile on but they are not doing anything to solve this. They should at least shut down the board for a week or a month after something like this. They are letting their users incite violence."

In the wake of the attack, reporters renewed their scrutiny of Cloudflare, the US company that helps keep 8chan online. Initially on Sunday Cloudfare said it had no plans to stop providing services to the message board. But on Sunday evening the company did an about-face and said 8chan would be cut off at midnight Pacific time.

The message board will probably find other ways to remain online. But as Donie O'Sullivan wrote Sunday night, "this decision certainly feels like an important moment in the history of the internet. Cloudflare is setting a precedent, a precedent it didn't want to set." CEO Matthew Prince says "we continue to feel incredibly uncomfortable about playing the role of content arbiter and do not plan to exercise it often..."

"Suspected terrorist"

Oliver Darcy writes: If a member of my family (we're Persian), or a Muslim, had posted a racist political screed, threatened violence, and then carried out a slaughter, it would rightly -- and very quickly -- be covered as a terror attack. The culprit would be called a "suspected terrorist." So why did it take newsrooms so long? I understand that officials were bizarrely reluctant to initially say they were investigating it as domestic terrorism, but do newsrooms really need to wait for a government official (particularly in this administration) to say the obvious before covering it as such? I am not convinced...

>> Related from Bellingcat: "Until law enforcement, and the media, treat these shooters as part of a terrorist movement no less organized, or deadly, than ISIS or Al Qaeda, the violence will continue..." 

Will conservative media demand Trump call this for what it is?

Oliver Darcy writes: Back just a few years ago, a common refrain in conservative media was to demand that Obama call radical Islamic extremism for what it is. Say "radical Islamic extremism," these personalities said. If you can't identify the enemy, they'd argue, how can you defeat it? You would hear this type of rhetoric on Fox, you would hear it on talk radio, and you'd see it online. So now, following another bloody weekend, I'm waiting for these same personalities to demand Trump call THIS violence for what it is: white supremacist terrorism. Where are they?

 >> The WSJ's editorial board says "the common theme of these killings is the social alienation of young men that will be harder to address" than guns or political rhetoric... (WSJ)

Murdoch's NY Post urges Trump to ban assault weapons

One of the president's favorite papers, the New York Post, has an editorial directed right at him on Monday. "President Trump, America is scared and we need bold action," the front page reads. "It's time to... BAN WEAPONS OF WAR." The editorial calls for "the return of an assault-weapons ban."

The first iteration of the cover, as published by Drudge, said "BAN ASSAULT WEAPONS." Later it was changed to read "BAN WEAPONS OF WAR."
 >> The Post made a similar plea after the Parkland massacre. The cover said "MR. PRESIDENT, PLEASE ACT."


 -- To understand what's going on, read this by Juliette Kayyem: "White-supremacist terror is rooted in a pack, a community. And its violent strand today is being fed by three distinct, but complementary, creeds. The community has essentially found a mission, kinship and acceptance..." (WaPo)

 -- CNN's Mallory Simon: "Today, it appears officials are making a decision to call these attacks the terrorism they are – and maybe that is a first step towards fixing this rising tide of hate. But it cannot alone stop or solve it..." (CNN)

 -- Margaret Sullivan's Monday column: "The media’s by-the-numbers coverage of gun massacres must change" (WaPo)

 -- NBC's Phillip Mena was born and raised in El Paso... Most of his family members still live there... "When we talk about protecting our borders and protecting our way of life, and then we see something like this, we ask ourselves, I mean -- what are we protecting it from? Death and decay?" (Mediaite)

Trump will speak on Monday

He's slated to speak from the Diplomatic Room of the White House at 10 a.m. ET. The broadcast networks are planning to take it live, giving it the feel of an address to the nation. His televised remarks on Sunday certainly underwhelmed -- he didn't mention guns, domestic terrorism or white nationalism...


In the wake of the Christchurch mosque attack in March, a reporter asked Trump, "Do you see, today, white nationalism as a rising threat around the world?" Trump answered: "I don't really. I think it's a small group of people that have very, very serious problems. I guess if you look at what happened in New Zealand, perhaps that's the case. I don’t know enough about it yet. They’re just learning about the person and the people involved. But it’s certainly a terrible thing. Terrible thing."

 >> CNN's Don Lemon on Sunday night: "When are we going to call out white nationalism for the curse that it is on this country?" He said Trump "won't acknowledge" the serious threat...

George Conway's prediction

While Kellyanne Conway is presumably involved in the conversations about what Trump will say in Monday's speech, her husband George has a prediction. "We all know what's going to happen here," he tweeted on Sunday. Trump will give a speech, "it will look somewhat presidential," but "it'll be hard to believe that he believes the words he said. And his speech won't address his own hateful, racist rhetoric." So, Conway said, he'll be "roundly criticized," and he'll watch the coverage, and he'll "stew," and then he'll erupt, and "he'll tweet, otherwise say, or do something that'll completely undo whatever positive benefit came from the speech." His point: We've seen this all before...


 -- Lester Holt and David Muir anchored NBC and ABC's nightly newscasts from El Paso... Norah O'Donnell anchored on CBS from NYC, and she'll be in El Paso on Monday...

 -- Muir's intro: "We have been to so many of these, and the words quite honestly are harder and harder to come by..."

 -- On Monday's "Today," Holt will join the show from El Paso while Craig Melvin will report from Dayton...

 -- CNN is live all night and into Monday morning...

 -- Numerous CNN anchors will be leading the network's coverage from El Paso and Dayton on Monday, joining Victor Blackwell and Jim Sciutto, who anchored from El Paso on Sunday...

 -- MSNBC has scheduled a two-hour special, "A Nation in Crisis," Monday from 9 p.m. til 11 p.m. ET. It will be anchored by Brian Williams, Rachel Maddow and Nicolle Wallace...

My interview with Shannon Watts

The gun control group Shannon Watts founded, Moms Demand Action, was holding its annual conference for activists in DC when the El Paso attack took place on Saturday. After dark, hundreds of the group's members held a moment of silence outside the White House and rallied near Capitol Hill. "NOT ONE MORE," they chanted, a few hours before the shooting spree in Dayton.

We showed videos of the rallies when Watts spoke with me on Sunday's "Reliable Sources." She said "I get asked all the time whether I'm numb or I think Americans are numb. What those videos show you is that we're not -- there isn't a parent in this country who isn't terrified that their child will be next." Here's the segment...

Notes and quotes from "Reliable"

 -- We spoke with Dayton Daily News editor Jim Bebbington and former El Paso Times editor Bob Moore...

 -- With Jennifer Mascia and Dave Cullen, we talked about the daily death toll from gun murders and suicides... Plus the term "manifesto" and whether it glorifies what these killers do...

 -- With Nikole-Hannah Jones and Wesley Lowery, we talked about how to cover the scourge of white nationalist terrorism... And with Olivia Nuzzi, we analyzed the president's difficulty in being a consoler-in-chief... 

To hear all the conversations from Sunday's show, listen to the podcast edition via Apple Podcasts, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, or your preferred app...

Josh Campbell's observations

I asked CNN law enforcement analyst Josh Campbell, who's in El Paso right now, for his observations about the news coverage and the federal response.

"One stark thing for me is how two distinct groups are using the media to their own ends: A) politicians casting blame on who is responsible for the national toxic tone and B) law enforcement, which is trying to appeal to the public to submit specific tips that will assist in the investigation," he wrote. "I also wonder what would happen to further the reduction of gun violence if any senior law enforcement leader (at DOJ or FBI) actually had the intestinal fortitude to weigh in on the larger issue and truly talk about WHY things are happening rather than just WHAT happened. Thus far we've only seen law enforcement using media for tactical investigative purposes rather than to drive a national conversation about this national emergency."

Holt: "There is too much to lose..."

"We're all tired," Lester Holt said at the end of Sunday's "Nightly News" -- "tired of having to watch communities like these go through the well-worn rituals of shock, pain, vigils and talk... lots of talk and few answers. We're tired of asking why. But there is too much to lose for us to succumb to numbness and despair. And what we can't forget is that this is sadly common, but it is not normal. And that should give us hope/"

O'Donnell: "We will not live in fear."

Americans "prayed in churches and in private" for the shooting victims, and then "went on with their lives, spending a summer Sunday with their families, appreciating them that much more," Norah O'Donnell said at the end of her program. "And perhaps living life to the fullest, in the most positive way we can, is the best way to honor those we lost & the best message we can send to those who would have us live in terror. We will be vigilant, do everything possible to prevent these tragedies and protect our loved ones, but we will not live in fear. That would be admitting defeat. Among the 4 freedoms laid out by Franklin D. Roosevelt is 'freedom from fear.' He called it an essential human right, and it is one we cannot afford to surrender."

Warren re-ups her criticism of Fox News

Elizabeth Warren, who blasted Fox earlier this year when she said she wouldn't accept any town hall invite from the network, said it again on Sunday. She tweeted, "We need to call it out: Fox News is a hate-for-profit machine that gives a megaphone to racists and conspiracists." Warren was responding to Leah Greenberg of Indivisible Guide, who wrote that the El Paso attack "was spurred by the same white nationalist ideology that is promoted by the President of the United States and mainstreamed by Fox News."

 --> The NYT's Astead Herndon tweeted Sunday, "Millions of people in this country live in a deluge of media, online and on TV, stoking white anxiety about demographic changes. day after day. There is no countering, anti-racist equivalent. And that is partly because many have no idea the scope and scale of what's going on..."

Fox host deletes his tweet fundraising for Islamophobic bigot

Oliver Darcy emails: Fox host Pete Hegseth deleted a tweet on Sunday in which he openly fundraised for Islamaphobe and fringe right-wing activist Laura Loomer. As Andrew Kaczynski noted before the tweet had been deleted, fundraising for a well-established bigot like Loomer was "embarrassing, even for the already low standards of Fox and Friends weekend hosts." I asked a Fox spokesperson whether Hegseth's tweet violated network standards, and whether he faced any disciplinary action. I never received a reply...


Serial mail bomber will be sentenced on Monday

"The Florida man who created a two-week crisis by mailing 16 packages of inoperative pipe bombs packed with fireworks powder and shards of glass to 13 famous Democrats and CNN is scheduled to learn his punishment Monday," the AP's Larry Neumeister reports...

 -- The SPLC says white nationalists have been praising the El Paso attack and mocking the dead via social media... (SPLC)

 -- I wonder if this will garner more attention in the days ahead? Last week Jana Winter revealed that an "FBI intelligence bulletin from the bureau's Phoenix field office, dated May 30, 2019, describes 'conspiracy theory-driven domestic extremists' as a growing threat, and notes that it is the first such report to do so..." (Yahoo)

Blame it on... video games?

"Many Republicans avoided going on the Sunday talk shows after a weekend filled with gun violence, but two who did make it on Fox News quickly pointed the finger at a possible culprit for the shootings: video games," Slate's Daniel Politi writes.

Vox's Jane Coaston notes that "this is not a new misdiagnosis in response to mass shootings." She reached out to the gaming industry's trade association, which said: "Study after study has established that there is no casual link between video games and real world violence. Violent crime has been decreasing in our country at the very time that video games have been increasing in popularity. And other societies, where video games are played as avidly, do not contend with the tragic levels of violence that occur in the US."

Media week ahead calendar

Tuesday: Disney earnings after the bell...

Wednesday: Samsung's Galaxy Note 10 event...

Wednesday: IAC earnings after the bell...

Thursday: CBS and Viacom combo news? Viacom reports earnings before the bell, CBS comes after...

Thursday: News Corp earnings after the bell...

Gannett + GateHouse deal is imminent

"Barring last-minute complications, the merger of America's two largest newspaper chains, GateHouse Media and Gannett, could be announced as early as Monday morning," Ken Doctor scooped on Sunday.

This deal will produce "an unprecedented giant in American daily journalism," he wrote. "The combination — which parties say will take the Gannett name and its headquarters outside D.C. in McLean, Virginia — produces a company that will likely own and operate 265 dailies and thousands of weeklies across the country. That's more than one-sixth of all remaining daily newspapers." Read on...

 --> Doctor also noted that both companies "are scheduled to report their less-than-stellar Q2 2019 earnings" on Tuesday...

 --> For more on the deal, Poynter's Rick Edmonds has a detailed list of "what's known and what's not..."

Fox Corp buying online loans marketplace

The WSJ's Joe Flint reports: "Fox Corp. has struck a deal to buy a majority stake in Credible Labs Inc., a marketplace for consumer-lending information, for $265 million, the company said Sunday afternoon."

The site "helps consumers shop for loans for mortgages and schools from financial institutions." So why is this a logical fit with Fox? Well "Fox Corp. said the deal is part of its digital strategy and that Credible will become a resource for its Fox Business Network..."

Karem challenging White House press pass suspension

Brian Karem will be submitting his response to W.H. press secretary Stephanie Grisham on Monday. ICYMI on Friday, Grisham notified Karem of her "preliminary decision" to suspend his hard pass for one month -- a form of punishment for his July 11 dispute with Seb Gorka in the Rose Garden. Karem and Playboy magazine have retained Ted Boutrous to represent them in the matter. Boutrous was a key member of the legal team that successfully fought for Jim Acosta and CNN last fall.

WHCA is "closely monitoring"

On Sunday White House Correspondents Association president Jon Karl sent out this message to members: "The WHCA is closely monitoring a ‘preliminary’ decision by the White House Press Secretary to suspend a member's hard pass for 30 days. We sincerely hope this White House does not again make the mistake of revoking a reporter's hard pass. The WHCA has stood up to violations of due process rights before and we stand ready to safeguard those rights for all reporters who work to hold our government accountable. We believe everyone should conduct themselves professionally at the White House."

Reality check

Whitney Friedlander reports from the TV Press Tour, where The CW network presented on Sunday: The CW's EVP of communications Paul Hewitt started the day by choking up at the podium as he spoke of the El Paso and Dayton shootings. I don't know if I've ever seen something like that happen before at TCA. "The real world has kind of interjected itself into our world of fantasy and make-believe and it really puts things in perspective," Hewitt said. "This continues to be heartbreaking..."

Hewitt's remarks came around the same time that an email from the conservative group Parents Television Council hit many entertainment journalists' inboxes. The release asked The CW to tone down what it described as "graphic violence" on some of its superhero shows like "Arrow" and "Black Lightning." When asked about this during his TCA press conference, The CW president Mark Pedowitz said that he and his staff are "very cognizant" of the violence levels in their shows and have asked creators to tone things down if they think plots have gone too far. "Unfortunately, violence is a part of our society and it’s reflected on every piece of literature and show that we see," he added.


CW's new streaming strategy

Whitney Friedlander adds: As is becoming du jour, The CW has taken advantage of the end of its output deal with Netflix to secure streaming rights for its new shows. This practice will start with the new shows on the network’s fall 2019 slate, “Batwoman,” “Nancy Drew” and “Katy Keene,” and will mean that all new episodes of these series will be available on or its app the day after they broadcast throughout the season. Eventually, all episodes of a season will be available online from the day after the finale until 30 days before the start of a new season. From there, The CW will begin eliminating five episodes of the series at a time from these streaming services until the new season begins.
Returning series will continue to keep their most recent five episodes on the streaming platforms. All past seasons of The CW’s new and returning series are controlled by their parent studios, which have control over where these shows will be streamed out of season...

This weekend's box office news

"The 'Fast and Furious' franchise logged another hit at the box office this weekend, with its spinoff 'Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw' raking in $60.8 million in its North American debut," Victoria Cavaliere wrote Sunday.

More from Brian Lowry: There's been excitement about "Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood's" box-office performance — the Los Angeles Times is already touting its Oscar chances — but it isn't the only adult movie success story this summer. "The Farewell," Lulu Wang's family dramedy featuring Awkwafina atop a predominantly Asian cast, added 270 screens (bringing its total to about 400) and earned $2.4 million, ranking seventh among all releases. That boosted its total to $6.8 million, making it a rare standout among indie films this year...

"The Rookie" actress quits

"The Rookie actress Afton Williamson will not be returning to the ABC drama starring Nathan Fillion amid claims of sexual harassment and racial discrimination," THR's Lesley Goldberg reported Sunday. "The actress, who co-starred on the cop drama from showrunner Alexi Hawley (Castle), ABC Studios and Entertainment One, on Sunday announced her departure from the show in a lengthy post on her verified Instagram account..."
Thank you for reading. Hopefully tomorrow is a somewhat better day. Send me your feedback anytime... 
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