Anonymous posters on 4chan’s infamous politics board are celebrating following yesterday’s tragic shooting at the Capital Gazette newspaper, which claimed the lives of five newsroom employees in Annapolis, Maryland.
Let’s take a moment to break down the above screenshot, which serves as a shocking justification for the targeting of journalists. The popular post claimed that journalists deserve to be killed for “profiting off the misery of the dead by invading their families’ lives, popularizing their suffering, publishing their secrets and faces online, violating their privacy, praising the lone shooters and broadcasting detailed obituaries of them.”
The anonymous poster goes on to accuse the media and journalists of “ignoring the hopes and dreams of US citizens in favor of greedy sociopath invaders, working against America, misrepresenting facts and promoting propaganda, [and] suppressing the truth.”
4chan is a shocking place; conspiracy-minded posts of this tenor are not uncommon in its dingiest corners. This statement exposes a dark distillation of the aggressive anti-media sentiment recently stoked by President Donald J. Trump’s administration and right-wing instigators like Milo Yiannopolos.
The post above closes with an ominous proposition and a prediction of further violence: “You tried to destroy America and for click profits. You’re vile scum and though we didn’t do this, this is likely the beginning of it happening for real and from mentally unstable hostiles who dislike you even more than America does.”
The post also generated a number of like-minded responses, some of which can be seen below:
While we hesitate to give credence to fringe viewpoints that justify violence, this popular and trending post represents the cultivation of fascist-like ideology within certain online spaces like 4chan. It remains to be seen whether the escalating right-wing attacks on the integrity of journalism will result in further violence.