The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion Words have consequences. Trump either doesn’t know or doesn’t care.

President Trump on the South Lawn of the White House on Friday. (Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post)

PRESIDENT TRUMP wasn’t at his Miami golf resort when a fake video was shown that depicted him as a mass killer systemically executing members of the news media and his political opponents. His spokeswoman said he had not seen the video, and his reelection campaign said they didn’t produce it. But Mr. Trump has set the tone for it with language and ideology that encourages hate, disrespect and violence.

The graphic video shown during a three-day conference of Mr. Trump’s supporters last week is hard to watch. It depicts a gruesome scene inside the “Church of Fake News” in which Mr. Trump’s head is superimposed on the body of a man who shoots, stabs and assaults parishioners whose faces have been replaced with logos of news organizations — including CNN, PBS and The Post — and those of his critics and political opponents — including former president Barack Obama, the late Sen. John McCain and comedian Rosie O’Donnell. A figure representing the Black Lives Matter movement is shot in the head, and the video ends with a beaming Trump figure.

A statement from American Priority , which hosted the event at the Trump National Doral, said the video was shown in a side room and not “approved, seen, or sanctioned” by organizers. It is more than a little troubling that they found “shocking” the reporting by the New York Times, which first disclosed the video’s existence, as opposed to the video’s vile contents. It is more than a little troubling that some of Mr. Trump’s followers were comfortable with screening and watching it. And it is sad but unsurprising that Mr. Trump has issued no rebuke to his supporters and no forceful denunciation of the video itself.

Unsurprising, because Mr. Trump is no stranger to encouraging and celebrating violence. When a Mexican immigrant was beaten and urinated on in 2015 by men who invoked his name, Mr. Trump responded: “I will say that people who are following me are very passionate. They love this country and they want this country to be great again.” He bragged that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and not lose votes. “If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is” was his riposte to the possibility of Supreme Court appointments by Hillary Clinton. He calls the media the “enemy,” so it is (again) unsurprising that those slaughtered in the video are journalists who have been publicly criticized by the president.

Words that people use have consequences. It is unnerving to have a president who either doesn’t know that or doesn’t care.

Read more:

Max Boot: Are you happy now, Trump supporters?

E.J. Dionne Jr.: Trump is the culmination of all that has gone wrong in our politics

Erik Wemple: New York Times publisher blasts Trump over ‘fake news’

Fred Ryan: It is wrong — and corrosive — to conflate ‘unfavorable news’ and ‘fake news’

Jennifer Rubin: Press freedom is under siege — and the U.S. is part of the problem