Today’s Poynter Report will look at some of the coverage and reaction to Tuesday’s school shooting in Uvalde, Texas — where 19 children and two adults were murdered by an 18-year-old gunman.
First, notable journalism that you should check out
- The Washington Post’s John Woodrow Cox, who has written extensively about gun violence and children, with “Anger, anguish among Parkland and Newtown families after Texas shooting.”
- Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez with “Don’t look away from the Texas school shooting. Don’t wait in silence until the next massacre.” Lopez writes, “Wallow in grief. Be horrified. Be angry. Be committed to the idea that we’re all in the line of fire, that it could have been any of us, anywhere, at any time, because no one and nowhere is safe.”
- Washington Post contributing columnist Brian Broome writes, “Nobody’s going to do anything, right? I’m betting you already know, in the wake of the deaths of 19 children at an elementary school in Texas, that nobody is going to do a single thing. Oh, yes, for a while, people will stand behind microphones. Some will be sincere. There will be a vigil, maybe many vigils. Perhaps some balloons will be released into the air. But no one will do anything substantial about the reality that, in the United States, you can pick up a gun and mow down people for no reason.”
- The headline on this Alyssa Rosenberg column in The Washington Post is disturbing, mostly because it feels accurate: “America practices child sacrifice. Uvalde is the latest offering.” Rosenberg writes, “The massacre brings the total number of children killed in school shootings since the 1999 Columbine attack to 185. That figure doesn’t account for all the other settings in which children have been the victims of mass gun violence. And it doesn’t include the 311,000 children who were injured in school shootings, witnessed their classmates and teachers being shot, or sought shelter in barricaded classrooms, bathrooms and closets. Given the lack of action after these spasms of butchery, there is only one possible conclusion: We are willing to tolerate the murder of children. We accept events that will gravely wound the bodies and psyches of many others.”
Remembering the victims
Here is a Twitter thread that is almost impossible to look at without becoming emotional. It has lovely photos of the victims, most of whom were just small children, in a happier time. Take time to look at it.
The Dallas Morning News’ Maggie Prosser, Jamie Landers and Kelli Smith have “Here’s what we know about the victims in the Uvalde school shooting.”
The Washington Post’s Moriah Balingit, Beth Reinhard, María Luisa Paúl, Holly Bailey and Karina Elwood also write, “What we know about the victims of the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas.”
Calling out politicians, veteran journalist Dan Rather tweeted, “Those who claim that nothing can be done just prove they don’t have the creativity or empathy to lead.”
Satire? Not really
The Onion is a satire website known for its humor. But there was nothing funny about its spot-on Twitter thread of all the stories they’ve written after mass shootings. The headline on them all: “‘No Way To Prevent This,’ Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens.”
At one point Wednesday, The Onion posted all those stories on its website homepage — all of them with the exact same headline, but from different shootings. I counted 21 stories. Twenty-one!
An angry lawmaker
The most impassioned lawmaker, among the many who are upset, is Connecticut Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy. He was elected just weeks before the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012. Twenty children were killed in that shooting.
Speaking on the floor of the Senate after the Tuesday shooting, Murphy said, “This only happens in this country and nowhere else. Nowhere else do little kids go to school thinking that they might be shot that day. Nowhere else do parents have to talk to their kids as I have had to do about why they got locked into a bathroom and told to be quiet for five minutes just in case a bad man entered that building. Nowhere else does that happen except here in the United States of America. And it is a choice. It is our choice to let it continue.”
He also said, “Why do you spend all this time running for the United States Senate, why do you go through all the hassle of getting this job, of putting yourself in position of authority, if your answer as the slaughter increases, as our kids run for their lives, is we do nothing? What are we doing? Why are you here if not to solve a problem as existential as this?”
Murphy appeared on CNN on Wednesday and said, “This is ultimately up to voters. Voters get to decide this. Ask your candidates this fall: Are you supportive of universal background checks? Do you think that 18-year-olds should have access to military-style assault weapons? If they say yes, if they support the current law, if they don’t support reform, then don’t send them back to Congress.
More notable journalism …
- For his morning newsletter, The New York Times’ David Leonhardt writes, “If American gun violence is no longer surprising, it still is shocking. On an average day in the U.S., more than 35 people are murdered with a gun. No other affluent country in the world has a gun homicide rate nearly as high.”
- The Atlantic’s David Frum with “America’s Hands Are Full of Blood.” Frum writes, “Thoughts and prayers. It began as a cliché. It became a joke. It has putrefied into a national shame.” Frum adds, “Most of us are appalled. But not enough of us are sufficiently appalled to cast our votes to halt it. And those to whom Americans entrust political power, at the state and federal levels, seem determined to make things worse and bloodier.”
- Wednesday’s “The Daily” podcast from The New York Times: “Another Elementary School Massacre.”
- Also in The New York Times, Thomas Fuller with “The Stupefying Tally of American Gun Violence.” Fuller writes, “The misery mounts, and yet nothing changes, leaving Americans with little more to do than keep lists, mental spreadsheets of death that treat events like Uvalde as just another morbid tally with superlatives like ‘second-deadliest shooting in an elementary school.’”
Steve Kerr’s passionate speech
If you haven’t seen the passionate speech made by Golden State Warriors basketball coach Steve Kerr, be sure to check it out. Kerr was very emotional — so overcome with sadness that his voice cracked and he had tears in his eyes and then he turned angry, slamming his fist on the table. His ire was directed mostly at Republican lawmakers.
Kerr’s speech came during a press conference before his Warriors played Dallas in Tuesday’s Game 4 of their Western Conference finals. Kerr, at one point, said, “When are we going to do something? I’m tired. I am so tired of getting up here and offering condolences to the devastated families that are out there. I am so tired of the excuse, I am sorry, I am tired of the moments of silence. Enough!”
It should be noted that Kerr was a student at the University of Arizona in 1984 when his father, the president of American University of Beirut, was assassinated. Kerr has long been an outspoken advocate of tougher gun laws.
In a story posted Wednesday, The Washington Post’s Frederic J. Frommer wrote about how Kerr’s views were shaped by the murder of his father. And there’s also this excellent 2016 story by The New York Times’ John Branch: “Tragedy Made Steve Kerr See the World Beyond the Court.”
And, also, Los Angeles Times sports columnist Bill Plaschke had a column with the headline: “Steve Kerr’s searing words shattered the silence. We won’t be quiet amid gun violence.”
For those who like to say, “Stick to sports” or even worse yet, “Shut up and dribble,” Plaschke had this to say: “How about you shut up and listen?”
Plaschke wrote, “Sports may be trivial, but people pay attention to those who play and coach sports. Sports might be silly games, but people notice when suddenly the leader of the most popular team in one of this country’s most popular leagues refuses to talk about those games.”
Personalities from all across the sports world weighed in on Tuesday’s shooting.
Kerr’s star player, Steph Curry, addressed what his coach said: “I can’t even imagine the pain for coach to say what he said, and every word he said was powerful, was meaningful. I accept that challenge of trying to figure out a way to use my voice and platform to hopefully make change, and you can tell what it meant to him, come up in front of y’all and use this microphone to say what he said.”
Curry added, “I got kids. Send them to school every day. Drop them off. And you feel for the parents that are going through what they are going through.”
The WNBA’s Washington Mystics held a media blackout to focus on the shooting instead of basketball. Mystics player Natasha Cloud, however, did represent the team before the media and said, “We have an issue in this country. Not only white supremacy, we also have a gun violence issue. This is us using our platform, right? This game doesn’t matter. … The 18 lives — and the number is going up by the minute — that were lost today from senseless gun violence in Texas at an elementary school, we’re talking about our kids not being safe to go to school and our government is still not implementing sensible gun laws. This isn’t about taking people’s rights away from bearing arms. This is about putting sensible gun laws in so this doesn’t happen again. We cannot continue to make the same mistakes. We cannot continue to allow these things to happen in our country and nothing is being done with it for money, for profit.”
NBA star LeBron James tweeted, “My thoughts and prayers goes out to the families of love ones loss & injured at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, TX! Like when is enough enough man!!! These are kids and we keep putting them in harms way at school. Like seriously ‘AT SCHOOL’ where it’s suppose to be the safest!”
More sports reaction
ESPN’s “First Take” opened Wednesday’s show by talking about the shooting. Regular co-host Stephen A. Smith had his take, saying it was time to hold politicians accountable.
But it was guest co-host, New York City radio legend Chris “Mad Dog” Russo, who really let loose in his criticism of politicians. Russo said, “It’s ridiculous. You’re gonna bring up the Second Amendment and the right to have guns? You’re gonna bring up something that was passed in 1780 and say it applies to today? That is absolutely absurd.”
Russo then mentioned Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and another local representative who recently voted against gun measures. Russo said, “They voted no on it, and then Abbott gives this speech about how they’re heartbroken. Well, you had a chance to do something about it! You did nothing. And where are they going on Friday, half of them? To an (NRA) convention in Houston, Texas, for crying out loud.”
Just a normal Twitter user posted this haunting tweet: “Reminder that active shooter drills are especially worthless now because the war on elementary schoolers has been going on for long enough that the active shooters also went through active shooter drills.”
CNN’s Erica Hill broke down on air when talking about the story. “It’s getting harder,” she said. Mediaite’s Jackson Richman has more.
Fox News’ Ainsley Earhardt also broke down. Mediaite’s Ken Meyer has more.
The Atlantic’s Jemele Hill tweeted, “Sorry I just don’t have any expectation that what happened in Uvalde will be the rock bottom moment that inspires a more courageous response to gun violence. The pandemic pretty much proved living with a certain amount of preventable death in the name of freedom is our brand.”
Speaking on Washington Post Live on Wednesday, Anna King, president of the National Parent Teacher Association, said, “To say I’m speechless would just be an understatement. Our children right now are faced with so many things that they shouldn’t be faced with. In America, we teach our children that they have inherited life and pursuit of happiness, and far too long our children have been taken from us with senseless violence and that’s not acceptable. … These incidents shouldn’t happen like this. … This is not a party issue. This is about our children. And my question is, do we not value the lives of our nation’s children, our educators and our families enough to pass simple measures that could save their lives?”
More notable journalism …
- The Daily Beast’s Rachel Olding and Danika Fears with “Classroom of Horror: How the Texas Elementary School Shooting Unfolded.”
- Tampa Bay Times columnist Stephanie Hayes with “As a school year ends, America goes numb.” Hayes writes, “So, we send our kids to school and hope for the best. They practice hiding under desks and barricading doors and standing on toilet seats as if they’re rehearsing a play. It’s a sick nation that won’t entertain a conversation about common-sense, constitutionally sound paths off this catastrophic merry-go-round. It’s a vain nation that will so easily move on. It’s a traumatized nation that will accept atrocities no other developed country accepts. It’s a defeated nation, a resigned nation, a scared nation.”
- Washington Post columnist Paul Waldman with “Yes, this absolutely is who we are.” Waldman wrote, “We’re not England or France or Canada or Denmark or Japan or Portugal or any other country. In those places, parents send their kids to school worried that they might catch a cold, or struggle with math problems, or face bullying. They don’t worry that someone will come into their child’s classroom with a weapon of war and tear their little bodies apart.” Waldman added, “This is who we are, all of us living under a cloud of violence and murder. The roots of this insanity go back far, but today it is maintained by the party that has leveraged its minority rule to make sure virtually no limits are imposed on guns, which it fetishizes and worships and celebrates.”
- And, finally, my Poynter colleagues Al and Sidney Tompkins write about journalists who cover these horrific stories in “Remember, journalists, to take care of yourselves.”
The last word for today
The Atlantic’s Clint Smith with “No Parent Should Have to Live Like This.” Smith writes, “I am a writer, but I feel as if language fails me in moments such as this. What vocabulary can describe the heartbeat of a parent pacing for hours outside a school, waiting to hear if their child survived? What sort of sentences can capture a fear that no family should have to hold? What words could ever be commensurate with the lost lives of so many little ones?”
Have feedback or a tip? Email Poynter senior media writer Tom Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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