David Simon recalls friends from The Capital, says Trump's rhetoric contributed to newspaper shooting

In an essay posted Sunday to his personal website, David Simon, a former Baltimore Sun reporter and the creator of “The Wire,” memorialized friends killed in The Capital Gazette shooting and anti-media statements by President Donald Trump contributed to the incident.

“[T]his empty, soulless man… purposely created a climate that helped to murder my friends,” Simon wrote of Trump.

In the essay, Simon paid tribute to Rob Hiaasen and John McNamara, whom he knew from his days with The Sun, as well as from his days with the University of Maryland’s campus newspaper, The Diamondback.

Simon said Hiaasen and McNamara embodied everything good about newspapers; he called them “quiet and careful footsoldiers” in a daily war to find out the region’s news and publish it. Both were killed in the June 28 shooting at the newspaper’s offices, along with colleagues Wendi Winters, Rebecca Smith and Gerald Fischman.

Hiaasen, Simon wrote, was the generous reporter with an eye for human details, who cheered his colleagues’ successes as if they were his own.

McNamara was “the most humble and genuinely sincere creature to ever endure a copy edit.”

“These are the people I see when I think of the president declaring time and again for the villainy of journalists,” he wrote.

While people and presidents have long attacked the media, Simon suggests that Trump’s sustained attacks on the press emboldened the Annapolis shooter — and are likely to spur similar actions in the future. In the essay, he draws parallels between Trump’s grievances against “fake news,” and the alleged Annapolis shooter’s grievances against The Capital for coverage he received in the paper.

Trump, he wrote, “is at every moment feral, ever seeking satisfaction and avoiding pain: The press has not validated him. It has criticized him forcefully and willfully.”

Simon, who was recently banned from Twitter, declined to comment further on the essay.

In an email to The Sun, he said: “It says what I mean it to say. I wrote it because I thought it needed saying.”

ctkacik@baltsun.com

twitter.com/xtinatkacik

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