President Trump today tweeted a message that sounds a lot like “blaming the victim,” suggesting that the Florida shooter’s classmates should have reported him to “authorities.”
“Neighbors and classmates knew he was a big problem. Must always report such instances to authorities, again and again!” Trump tweeted.
Here’s the tweet, which some reason is linked to another tweet on DACA.
So many signs that the Florida shooter was mentally disturbed, even expelled from school for bad and erratic behavior. Neighbors and classmates knew he was a big problem. Must always report such instances to authorities, again and again!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 15, 2018
This is one of the problems with Trump tweeting in bed. There’s nobody to advise him and caution him about mistakes, which everyone makes. On the one hand, this is the direct, unvarnished and un-politically correct approach Americans voted for. In this case, though, he has said something hurtful to people who are already suffering.
Trump’s point is to encourage people to report potential threats. And ultimately, his tweet was driven by compassion for victims and anger at what happened. But by doing it in this way, victims of the attack are naturally going to think the president is assigning some blame to them. And he is.
There are benefits to a president who acts according to gut instinct. And there are drawbacks. This is a drawback.