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29 Dead, 42 Injured in Mass Shooting This Weekend. Aired 11a- 12a ET
Aired August 04, 2019 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST, "STATE OF THE UNION": A lot of people today arguing he has not made it better.
[11:00:02] I'll be back at noon with the very latest on this horrible story. CNN has much more on these mass shootings.
Next, we will be live at noon with Kamala Harris and Bernie Sanders. Stay with us.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST: I'm Brian Stelter, and this is RELIABLE SOURCES, continuing CNN's breaking news coverage of this horrific weekend in America. At least 20 dead in El Paso, Texas, the site of an attack by a suspected terrorist, nine are dead in Dayton, Ohio, along with the gunman there. He attacked a neighborhood crowded with bars and clubs overnight in the Oregon district of Dayton.
We are still learning more about both sites, about both shooters and about the victims. The attack in El Paso, we know, is the deadliest mass shooting in America since November 2017. "The Dallas Morning News" posting this gut wrenching front page this morning, the headline quoting an eyewitness saying there were so many bodies. Sadly, that headline would now apply in Dayton as well.
But here is the "El Paso Times", hometown paper on the border there, 20 killed in rampage, mentioning the manifesto, which we will get into in the hour to come.
We know that in El Paso, police have a suspect in custody. He is reportedly talking with investigators. We also know the FBI has opened a domestic terrorism investigation into the shooting. The media conversation this hour will be, in part, about when and how and why to describe this terrorism. In this case, white terrorism.
Now we know many Americans are at church this morning. They are in places of worship this morning. Politicians are coming forward, offering thoughts and prayers, repeating the same messages they repeated for years, for decades.
Look at this. This is just one politician. Not trying to pick on any individual. Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, some of the many times that he said virtually the same thing in response to a mass shooting in the United States. One of the top assignments for journalists in the days ahead is to follow up with political leaders, Republicans and Democrats, and find out what they're going to do. We've heard them talk. What are they going to do?
And that also includes the president of the United States who right now has been tweeting but not said anything on camera. Will there be an address to the nation?
We're going to cover all those angles in the minutes to come here. Let's start with CNN's Shimon Prokupecz with the latest information on what we know and we don't know about the suspects and victims.
Shimon, let's start with Dayton, Ohio, the shooting overnight. Apparently authorities have identified the suspect, who has now been killed. We don't know what his name is. Is that right?
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: That's exactly right, Brian. They have identified him. They know where he lives. They've been to his home.
So, authorities there, they know who he is, but they have not shared publicly who he is. They're still working through that. They've not said what, perhaps, the motive was behind this.
But what we do know is that he came there armed with a lot of ammunition and a long gun, an AR-style assault rifle and he was prepared to kill many. They say police there that he had a lot of ammunition with him. If it wasn't for the police, the quick response from the police in just a minute, this could have been far worse.
But the motive here, while we know likely what the motive was in the El Paso shooting, here there are a lot of questions. And for authorities, they have to consider whether or not El Paso may have triggered this. Did that play any role of what happened in Dayton? That's something that authorities are looking at.
STELTER: We'll go live to Dayton in just a minute. But let's talk about El Paso and the apparent motive. What do we know about this so- called manifesto, this four-page racist screed issued that was published online shortly before the attack in El Paso? Have authorities confirmed yet that it came from the gunman?
PROKUPECZ: I think they're pretty sure that it is. They're not saying that. Obviously, they're still working through a lot of that information. They have legally, right, for evidence reasons they have to do certain things to link it 100 percent to him so that they could use it as evidence. They've not said they've done that yet.
But when you hear what the governor has to say there about treating this as a hate crime, when you heard police saying yesterday that they have this manifesto, that there's a nexus to a hate crime, certainly, they are looking at this manifesto in a way that they believe it does belong to him. That's a significant piece of evidence.
Also, keep in mind, Brian, that they've been interviewing this alleged shooter, this suspect. So, they have a lot of information from him, from his own word.
STELTER: From his own words?
PROKUPECZ: Yes, his own words. What is he telling investigators? Is he telling them why he did this? It's quite possible that he is.
He certainly didn't expect to live. That's an interesting point in all of this. Why did he choose to stop and surrender to police, why doesn't he engage police in a gun battle or shoot himself?
[11:05:03] And he could be offering all of those explanations to investigators. Certainly, that will be interesting once we learn that.
STELTER: Yes. All right. Shimon, thank you. Please stick around.
Let's go live now to El Paso and to Dayton to the editors in both cities. Bob Moore is the president and CEO of the digital news outlet "El Paso Matters". He also used to run "The El Paso Times". He is in El Paso, at the Walmart.
And in Dayton, joining us from the newsroom is the top editor there, "The Dayton Daily News", Jim Bebbington.
Jim, what is your newsroom doing right now? What are the top questions you all are trying to get answered?
JIM BEBBINGTON, EDITOR, DAYTON DAILY NEWS: Well, as you indicated, it's just coming to light who the shooter is, that the police identified him, at least, and we're digging into who he is and what -- why did he do what he did?
STELTER: So, that's what needs to be determined. This happened at 1:00 in the morning in Dayton. When did you find out, Jim?
It's so painful for so many Americans to wake up and find out that we're covering two of these on the same weekend.
BEBBINGTON: Yes, I got the call in the middle of the night. Our teams were out right away. We're also WHIO TV. So, we have a TV crews are out on the streets every night and they're not supposed to be doing this, though.
This was horrific. But we were there immediately. And our newsroom has been crammed ever since.
STELTER: Ever since.
To Bob Moore in El Paso, bob, about 13 hours before what happened in Dayton, we saw it in El Paso. Where were you? What have you been doing since then? It's been 24 hours since the shooting.
BOB MOORE, FORMER EDITOR EL PASO TIMES: I was at home. Looking forward to a Saturday off when I started to get Twitter notices from the police department, urging people to shelter in place. A short time later I got a call from "The Washington Post" asking if I could help them with coverage. So I immediately raced out to the scene yesterday, to where we're standing now and have pretty much nonstop since then been trying to piece together what happened here.
STELTER: Have you had to do this before, Bob? I know there are now so many journalists that have had to respond to multiple mass shootings in their careers because this happened so often.
MOORE: No. This is my first. I hope it's my last. And I think the uniqueness of this, if it pans out the way it's looking right now, we're talking about perhaps the deadliest act of domestic terrorism since the Oklahoma City bombing. This is -- this is just really stunning and a bit overwhelming to be honest with you.
STELTER: Do you have any advice for Jim, given that he's doing this a day longer than he has?
MOORE: Godspeed. Keep everybody together. Keep everybody strong. And, you know, those of us who are local journalists really know the importance of connecting with our community and promoting accuracy above all else.
STELTER: Yes, I think -- Jim, partly what's so heartbreaking this weekend is that we're seeing two wonderful all-American cities connected the worst possible way. You know, I know it's always been a few hours, but what's it feel like there in Dayton?
BEBBINGTON: Well, it's very hard. We got walloped by 15 tornadoes two months ago and that's been the focus of the whole community and now this. I mean, Dayton, briefly, is a proud city. It calls itself the city of neighbors. That is its name.
And so, it's a big small town that a lot of people go to where this happened last night and it really touches everybody. So, we're trying to get our arms around, you know, who got hurt, how are the victims and their families getting word and how do we come back from this.
STELTER: Jim, Bob, thank you both. Best of luck in the hours and days to come.
One of the biggest stories, obviously, one of the most important pieces of this, the victims. And we still know very little about the people who have died in both of these massacres. That is going to be a top priority in the hours ahead.
We're also going to take a quick break and come back with our panel, talking about terrorism, domestic terrorism. When and how to apply that term.
More in just a moment here.
[11:12:53] STELTER: We are back now here on CNN with these two mass shootings in Ohio and Texas, awaiting updates from authorities in both cases. Now, I'm going to show you this headline from "The Los Angeles Times"
summing up what is going on in this country right now. The headline says: Deadly violence heightens concerns about domestic terrorism and white supremacists.
But here is the thing. That headline was on Friday. That was before the attack in El Paso. It was before the attack in Dayton. That headline was about Gilroy.
Of course, the FBI has been investigating the rise in racist attacks in this country. They've been acknowledging this for many months. Back in May, for example, a senior FBI official said they've seen a significant rise in white supremacist, white nationalist terrorism cases.
We know relatively little about what happened in El Paso, but we do know about the so-called manifesto published online by somebody, appears to be the shooter, just a few minutes before the attack.
So, let's talk about all of that and more now with journalist Dave Cullen. He's the author of the book's "Columbine" and "Parkland: Birth of a Movement." Jennifer Mascia is staff writer for "The Trace". It's a nonprofit newsroom dedicated to the American gun violence crisis. And here from CNN, senior media reporter Oliver Darcy.
Let's talk first about the so-called manifesto. I don't think we should call it manifesto necessarily, Oliver. It's an essay. It's a racist screed. I don't think it should be glamorized calling it a manifesto.
But whatever we call it, what we know is it was published on this nasty message board 8Chan about 20 minutes before this attack happened in El Paso. It is not 100 percent confirmed that it was posted by the gunman. But even the suspect's name is labeled right there on 8chan.
OLIVER DARCY, CNN SENIOR MEDIA REPORTER: Yes.
STELTER: All the evidence indicates that he posted this document attacking Hispanics, fearing the replacement of white people. And this is not the first time we've seen an online screed like this.
DARCY: No. And if this were a member of my family who had done an act of family like this, if this were a Muslim, we would call it for what it is, terrorism, because that is what it is. Particularly in this El Paso case, we know that authorities believe that the gunman posted this racist screed online, anti-immigrant screed online.
[11:15:02] He talked about using violence to achieve a political end goal. That is the dictionary definition of terrorism. And it's baffling to me, actually, why this story is largely not framed as such.
STELTER: He is a suspected terrorist.
DARCY: Right. STELTER: I think we should say that. We're at the point where
there's enough evidence of that.
STELTER: I think what's happening is newsrooms are waiting for government officials to say concretely that this is the document from the --
DARCY: And it's perplexing why government officials aren't doing that. But I'm not entirely certain why newsrooms need to wait for some government official, state official, federal official, to call it terrorism, to call it for what it is.
STELTER: For what it is.
DARCY: We know the evidence right in front of our faces. We can call it for what it is.
Another point, too, the part about government officials seemingly reluctant to call it terrorism, I remember during the Obama years when conservative talk radio hosts and Fox News hosts were very -- would press Obama, call radical Islamic extremism for what it is, call it by its name.
I'm hopeful. I'm looking forward to the same members of the media, same conservative talk show hosts, demanding that this president call this for what it is, white supremacist terrorism. America is under attack from itself and it's about time we start calling it for what it is.
STELTER: Some political leaders have been out in front of this. George P. Bush, for example, the Texas land commissioner, said overnight on Twitter: There have been multiple attacks from self described white terrorists here in the U.S. in the last several months. This is a real and present threat that must be denounced.
Good for him, good for the other politicians willing to say that --
DARCY: Where is the president?
STELTER: -- but where is the president?
Jennifer, in your newsroom, "The Trace", do you all have conversations about when a mass shooting, when any shooting is an act of terror?
JENNIFER MASCIA, ENGAGEMENT WRITER, THE TRACE: We do. Motivation does matter. As you know, it's almost -- it's been, you know, like you said, there's a lot more energy in the government for foreign terror. But domestic terror, most acts of domestic terror are shootings.
So, we're interested in that. Motivation and how did he obtain the gun are the most important things. It doesn't form the bulk of our conversations, though. We're more focused on what bits of this story could contribute to the conversation that could possibly shape policy. STELTER: Right. And, Dave, what about this manifesto point? How
should news outlets approach covering the words of an attacker, whether it's in Christchurch, whether it's California, whether it's in Texas or elsewhere?
DAVE CULLEN, AUTHOR, "COLUMBINE" & "PARKLAND" BIRTH OF A MOVEMENT": Well, first of all, I like calling it an essay, because the whole grandiosity of those words, we don't think -- it's one small thing we could do as journalist because we don't think of the way that perpetrators are seeing this in elevating them.
But for the most part, I agree -- I'm glad to hear that, I don't think in these individual cases, we need to focus on the why anymore, and newsrooms, for the most part, aren't. We used to be fascinated, that would dominate the coverage.
STELTER: Yes, what caused the gunman to do this? That was "Columbine". That's what you focused on.
CULLEN: Yes, and for years, that was and that's what the public wanted to know after. But, you know, about three, four years ago, a huge change happened. People stopped asking me -- I do all sorts of public events. They stopped asking the question why, which was the burning question.
And it really changed to some version of how are we going to get out of this? What's going to happen? How do we solve this? Which is good. I don't think we need in general to know why this particularly, little, you now, A-hole did this particular thing.
STELTER: But here is a counterargument. This is coming from a colleague at NPR who just tweeted to me.
She said, we should call it a manifesto because this is an ideology. This is about a movement. This is about a pack of lone wolves. The other lone wolves, they're a pack that learn from each other, are inspired by each other in the darkest corners of the Internet and we have to recognize this is an ideology.
CULLEN: Sure, but that has a lot of grandiosity. It's not Andre Breton wrote the, you know, Manifesto of Surrealism, or Engels worked on Communist Manifesto. This is some, you know, dipshit who, you know, cobbled together some crap. It's an essay.
Believe me, the way they are interpreting this and seeing this -- you know, we also give them the bigots, whatever, blah, blah, blah. It's score keeping. All that matters to them much more.
To us, OK, it's trivial semantics. It's not trivial to them. You know, it's a very small thing we can do as journalists. We're not going to solve this.
But I do think, in this case, but this is different. The motive is important here. When it is an ideology, when this is about white supremacy, we've really come full circle.
Columbine was an odd thing. They were the first ones, modern, to take the tactics of terrorism and use it for their own selfish personal agenda. And that's mostly what we've been dealing with the past 20 years with most of these mass shooters but more and more are coming back realizing this is a thing you could get so much publicity and use it for political ends, Christchurch, possibly less with the Garlic Festival.
STELTER: Still unclear.
CULLEN: This one definitely. But there have been several of these. It's coming back to being a terrorist tactic and that's really scary.
STELTER: The better part of ten years now we said don't name the shooter. Don't put his face on TV all day. Newsrooms for the most part minimize the names and faces --
[11:20:02] CULLEN: Yes, it's huge (ph).
STELTER: -- but this keeps happening.
And I wonder, Jennifer, what else do you think newsrooms should be doing?
MASCIA: I mean, the notoriety movement has gone a long way toward -- there is a contagion effect. There's been a lot of research toward that, and making these people celebrities is a bad idea, which is a why, you know, a lot of networks now -- recent shootings that I don't know who perpetrated them and that's never happened to me. I've covered this six years.
And I also was a follower of these horrific events before I started covering them. I can't remember a shooting where I don't remember the perpetrator.
MASCIA: That hasn't happened. That was actually a movement started by the mother of an Aurora victim, the notoriety movement it was something that, you know, victims need a place in this conversation. If you do a Google shoot search for a shooting, the perpetrator's face will always come up. The victims very rarely.
STELTER: You could also make an agreement, though, that a racially motivated hate crime which appears to have happened in El Paso, we need to know it was a white guy, we need to know who he was, where he came from. We need to know things about the suspect, about the family, et cetera. Don't we?
MASCIA: Yes, I think so. I think motivation -- we're always looking for a place where how could this have been stopped? So, that's where those conversations are very useful. Where in this trajectory toward tragedy could somebody have intervened? And I think that's part of the reason there's a fascination of how did it get to this point? STELTER: I want to know about the ten hours of this that he was
driving from north of Dallas all the way to El Paso. He drove and drove and drove and drove and targeted, apparently, this community.
Who was he on the phone with? Where were his parents? Where were his loved ones? There's a lot of questions.
Let's take a quick break here. More with the panel in just a moment, including the gun control conversation. Quick break here. More on CNN in a moment.
[11:25:13] STELTER: And this just in to CNN from Josh Campbell in El Paso. He says the suspect in the attack there at the Walmart has formally been booked and charged on state capital murder charges. He also says a law enforcement official familiar with investigation says the El Paso suspect has been talking to the officers conducting his interview.
Let's turn back to the panel now and take a look at what "The Trace" does. "The Trace" is nonprofit news site covering shootings across the country, not just mass shootings, but shootings all across the country. Here's a few recent headlines from the website.
Jennifer Mascia is one of the staff writers there.
Jennifer, I just want to make a point that there are mass shootings that captivate the country. There are spectacles. they are daily killings and suicides as a result of guns that don't go as heavily reported and in these moments we need to note that as well.
MASCIA: Yes. Mass shootings are 2 percent of gun deaths in this country. Suicides are two-thirds and the everyday shooting coverage, there was a shooting in Brownsville, Brooklyn, 24 hours before Gilroy, did not quite get the same coverage.
STELTER: About a dozen shot there, one dead.
MASCIA: A dozen shot, communities of color, shootings happen there bear the disproportionate burden of gun violence in terms of homicide, and those shootings are not nearly as covered.
STELTER: And shooting injuries change people's bodies and lives forever, even though we learned the death toll, so they're not necessarily on screen, in the banner. We know at least 42 injured between El Paso and Dayton this weekend.
Dave, do you find people tiptoe around the gun conversation in the first 24 hours after these attacks? Are people tiptoeing on a day like today?
CULLEN: Tiptoeing where, you mean in the community?
STELTER: Often times from the right, there's a message that says don't politicize mass shootings so there's a little tiptoeing about guns.
CULLEN: You know, there is in some quarters. I think Parkland wiped a lot of that out because they called B.S. on that. When the victims say quit trying to protect us, we don't want your protection, I haven't heard that nearly as much. Victims rise up when they want to. This is when they want to be talking about doing something.
Oliver, the role of the Internet in radicalizing these often white men, oftentimes white men who are committing these attacks, we've seen this time after time after time, it's often times happening on the same websites.
DARCY: It always seems to come back to 8chan, or one of these fringe conspiracy message boards. And I kind of wonder, at what point do we look at this and say enough is enough? If you had ISIS terrorists gathering on a message board -- we all knew what message board it was, and they were talking openly about, you know, committing acts of terror, or praising acts of terror, I think there would be a large groundswell of support for taking some action or maybe monitoring some of these folks.
STELTER: But are they being monitored? Don't you think federal law enforcement is keeping an eye on these boards?
DARCY: Well, I would hope so. There have been reductions in the ability to monitor right wing extremism at the federal level. So, I would imagine, there is some monitoring but I think there should be more possibly. And I think we should treat this, again, as terrorism and if there are ISIS terrorists, posting on a message board, a lot of calls for that to stop and questions from the providers and the people who are hosting these websites about why they are not taking action.
STELTER: To the panel, thank you very much.
More breaking news now from El Paso. Let's go back to Dayton.
Unfortunately, I'll go back and forth between these two crime scenes. The latest from Dayton now coming in from local affiliate. The police chief there saying they are serving a search warrant at a home in connection with the overnight shooting in Dayton, Ohio. This is happening in Bellbrook, Ohio. It's a suburb there. It's unclear what's being collected from this home. We know a search warrant has been executed on a home near Dayton.
Quick break here. When we come back, Shannon Watts, she's the founder of Moms Demand Action, one of the leading gun control groups in this country. And those are her activists. Those are her organizers speaking on Capitol Hill last night. She'll join me, next.
[11:30:00] BRIAN STELTER, CNN ANCHOR: As terror unfolded in El Paso, Texas yesterday, let me show you what was happening in Washington. Hundreds of gun safety volunteers from the group Moms Demand Action -- they're part of the obviously network every town for gun safety -- they were gathered in D.C. for this conference called Gun Sense University.
You can see them filling the room there, many of them mobilizing after we learn of the massacre in El Paso, taken to the streets for a rally. They met up, they went to the White House. They held a moment of silence at the White House. You can see all of them holding their phones and candles and other devices up in the air as we pan over to the White House. These are all videos from the activists who are in the crowd.
And then from the White House, they headed to Capitol Hill. I want to show you those videos as well. Going to the Capitol Hill area, having this rally near the steps.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMERICAN CROWD: Not one more! Not one more! Not one more!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STELTER: What they're chanting there is "not one more, not one more." But after that chant, after that rally, these activists went home for the night and they woke up to the news from Dayton, one more mass today in America.
Shannon Watts is the Founder of Moms Demand Action. She's joining me now from Washington. Shannon, this conference sadly well-timed, what did you all talk about yesterday in the wake of the El Paso attack before the Dayton attack?
SHANNON WATTS, FOUNDER, MOMS DEMAND ACTION TO GUN SENSE IN AMERICA: Well, you know, we get together once a year. I was with 2,000 gun sense activists yesterday. Students and mothers and others who want to put an end to this gun violence crisis, not just the mass shootings and the school shootings but the daily gun violence, the homicides in city centers and the suicides and rural communities. All of it matters and we have to stop all of it, and yet here we are crisis after crisis.
But you know I get asked all the time whether I'm numb or I think Americans are numb. And what those videos show you is that we're not. There's not a parent in this country who isn't terrified that their child will be next.
STELTER: I know that some of your volunteers from Texas had to step away, right. What were they doing when they heard about El Paso?
WATTS: Well, first of all, they were devastated that this had happened. Some of them live there. But then they got to work and they started calling their Senators and demanding that they come back from recess and to vote on gun safety legislation like a background check on every gun sale, like a red flag law.
And if people listening to me now want to do that, all they have to do is text the word checks to 64433 and we will connect you to your senator.
[11:35:02] STELTER: What do you think the press gets wrong when we are covering mass shooting after mass shooting? Is it that we don't focus enough on the politicians who could or could not take action.
WATTS: You know, first of all let's not speculate about the causes of gun violence. We know what they are. It's easy access to guns. It's not video games and it's not mental illness, it's specifically an American crisis because there's easy access to guns. And also you know, I think sometimes media runs out of angles and ways to cover this.
We don't need new solutions to gun violence. We need to enact the solutions that are there that we know work and we need our lawmakers to do that.
STELTER: But you yourself, you say you don't get numb to this even though some journalists feel like they do, even though a lot of citizens, people watching this feel like they get numb to the daily, weekly, monthly death toll. It sounds like you avoid getting numb by focusing on the energy of your supporters.
WATTS: Yes, we're not numb. I mean, we're winning in the states houses, and in boardrooms. You know, we have passed so many stronger gun laws at the state level. We have changed corporate policy and that's how social issues work in this country. You build the momentum on the ground and it points the president and the Congress in the right direction. They better be listening to this because 2020 is coming and they should expect us.
STELTER: But the e-mails I get, I'm getting e-mails right now during the show. Here's one from Rick that says, Brian, nothing is going to be done from this. Sandy Hook taught me that. After Sandy Hook, I concluded nothing would ever be done. What do you say to those folks?
WATTS: Hopelessness and cynicism is dangerous because it tells Americans that they shouldn't act. This isn't a polarizing issue. It gets people to the polls. 90 percent of Americans support stronger gun laws. In the midterm elections, we outspent and outmaneuver the NRA. We elected 1,000 gun sense candidates, we flipped seven state legislatures, and we're about to do the same thing in 2020.
But this issue doesn't change unless every American gets off the sidelines and uses their voices and their vote.
STELTER: And I know that you've been outspoken on Twitter about one particular politician, President Trump, and the rhetoric that he has been expressing for years. And you believe there's a connection between that rhetoric and what we were seeing this weekend. Did you want to elaborate on what you mean?
WATT: Look, we know that white supremacists in this country are responsible for most of the domestic terror murders in this country. They use guns 70 percent of the time. And so they are inspired and emboldened by dangerous rhetoric from our leaders. And in America, they also have easy access to an arsenal and ammunition, and that's a very, very dangerous combination.
We need the President to walk back his words. We need him to act and to support stronger gun laws, like a background check on every gun sale and a red flag law.
STELTER: 24 hours, about 24 hours since the El Paso attack and we haven't seen the president on camera. I want to talk about that more later this hour. But there's one more note, Shannon. As we've been talking here, Bernie Sanders is on Twitter saying, hey Mitch McConnell, bring the Senate back into session. That's exactly what you were just saying that the Senate needs to come back into session and take action.
WATTS: That's exactly right.
STELTER: Shannon, thank you so much. Thanks for being here.
WATTS: Thank you.
STELTER: When we come back, the rise of white nationalism in America and how it may connect to the El Paso murder attack.
[11:40:00] STELTER: And we are back now here on a special edition of RELIABLE SOURCES covering these twin mass shootings in America, one in El Paso, Texas, one in Dayton, Ohio. It's so sad how these all American cities, you know, suddenly these names, these cities become known for their mass shootings. It's one of the many tragedies.
As we await more information on the suspects, more information on the victims, more information on the motives, what we do know is that this so-called manifesto, this racist essay was posted on a right-wing crazy message board -- not really right-wing, it's more just nuts on a message board about 20 minutes before the shooting in El Paso.
Investigators are looking into the connection between that manifesto and the attack. Let's talk more about this, about white nationalist attacks in this country and more with our panel here in New York. Olivia Nuzzi is Washington Correspondent for The New York Magazine, Wesley Lowery is a National Reporter for The Washington Post and a CNN Contributor, and Nikole Hannah-Jones is a New York Times Magazine Staff Writer.
Nicole, I wonder what comes to mind to you first when we're talking about an apparently racist attack in El Paso. This man drove across Texas seemingly targeting a border town. What comes to mind to you when it comes to the press and its coverage of racism and racist violence?
NIKOLE HANNAH-JONES, STAFF WRITER, NEW YORK TIMES: I think what comes to mind is kind of the difficulty that the media overall has grappling with, how do we describe these acts, how do we cover these acts. Clearly, there's a lot for us still to find out but we have been struggling to describe racism as racism, and to describe races access races act. And-- STELTER: Which is the story by the way that's been going on all week
long. Let's go back to last Saturday, Elijah Cummings gets a tweet attacked by President Trump. Ever since we've seen newsrooms coming up with various euphemisms for whether it was a racist tweet storm. It was a racist tweet storm but lots of journalists are uncomfortable saying so.
HANNAH-JONES: Yes. I mean, it's kind of -- Wesley and I we're talking in the green room. It's amazing the number of euphemisms we can come up with you know, racially tinged, racially infused, racial essence, to describe what is clearly a racist rhetoric. And part of that I think comes from a discomfort of many white journalists to call out thing that they don't feel we should say so directly. And it also comes from having a lack of kind of historical context themselves in order to describe,
You know, certain language, if you study the history of race in this country, you know that this is old language, that this is not something new that he's actually recalling some of the worst rhetoric that how black and brown people have faced in this country for a long time.
STELTER: Well, let's get into what is really uncomfortable here, which is that in this racist essay that appears to been published by the El Paso attacker, he uses words like invasion. He uses words like invasion, Hispanic invasion. Wesley, we know -- we know who else has been using those words for years.
It's not just President Trump, although we can put up on screen six of the times that he's used the word invasion. It's also right wing commentators. It's also other political leaders who talk this way about fellow citizens of the world, you know, fellow sea people.
[11:45:01] WESLEY LOWERY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Certainly. I mean, I think we've got multiple strands of truth here, right. The first is that this type of -- the drumbeat of this type of rhetoric has been present in our politics for years going back well before Donald Trump, although it's something that's extremely present in our contemporary politics and often the handful of black and brown journalists reporters commentators who raised this are looked at like they're crazy, that they're hysterical that they are making it up, that no the Trump voters can't be racist, and no this language isn't racism, and the reality is I don't know how many bodies we have to see.
I don't think shootings we have to deal with before we accept that look, all of the people concerned about white supremacy and its violent history -- white supremacy is the ideology that has killed more Americans than any other terroristic ideology in the history of America, right. It is -- it is a core to who we are as a nation and always have been and our denial about that, our inability to tell the truth is not helping us, it's not protecting us.
It might be protecting some people's feelings because they don't have to grapple with the prejudice in their own families and hearts and loved ones but it's not keeping anyone safe. But beyond that, we have to be willing to tell the truth as journalists, right. We are in many ways the guardrails of our society. We tell people that it's raining outside, right. And it's not a -- you know, precipitatingy --
LOWERY: -- afternoon, you know, with the undertone of hail. No, you see the raining or it isn't, right. And so when the President of the United States, when conservative commentators, prominent ones, when conservative politicians, Republican politicians -- it's not just the president. John Cornyn the Senator from Texas was tweeting about this the rise in Hispanic population just last week, I believe.
Ted Cruz, the other senator from Texas was talking about why Antifa to be labeled a terrorist organization, a group that I don't believe has murdered anyone. While here in Texas ==
STELTER: Some of them may have tried, and what you're going to hear from Fox primetime hosts is some of them have tried to murder people.
LOWERY: Sure. I would love -- I mean, you hear a lot of things from Fox and whether those things are true or not it's a totally different debate, right. But again --
STELTER: But the Antifa comparison is interesting because President Trump -- we can put this on screen -- just the other day tweeted out that he's thinking about calling Antifa a terror organization. When is he going to talk about white nationalist terror? That's an open question.
LOWERY: That's the question.
STELTER: So Olivia, as I've been saying, it's been about 24 hours since the first of these two mass shootings. I am used to as a -- as an American voter, I'm just -- I'm used to the president coming out and speaking of the public in moments of crisis. President Bush has done it after mass shootings, President Obama has done it after mass shootings. We pulled up some of the videos from these moments where they've spoken to the country after terror attacks and mass shootings. Where do you think President Trump is right now?
OLIVIA NUZZI, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, NEW YORK MAGAZINE: Well, he's been tweeting since the El Paso shooting. He tweeted initially a statement about that and then about 14 minutes later he started tweeting about other things. He tweeted a good luck to an MMA fighter. He retweeted people saying that he is not racist. And then eventually he tweeted again about El Paso and then, of course, this morning he tweeted about Ohio as well.
And I thought there was something particularly gruesome about how those tweets were grouped together. It was like god bless El Paso and God bless Dayton Ohio.
STELTER: That we're at a point now where you include both.
NUZZI: That we're at the point right now where you can have -- exactly. You could have a two-for-one tragedy tweet from the presidents. And yes, I think his aides are probably worried about him speaking publicly. Normally, a president would address the country. But do you really trust Donald Trump to come out and address the country and do it in a way that doesn't make it worse.
Historically that hasn't happened. Think about Charlottesville. Think about how he made it worse and made it all about him then. I think he is incapable of talking about anything at any length that it's not ultimately about him, that he does not ultimately bring back to the subject of him.
And if he wanted to do that here, he could, and he could address the cause of these shootings and the ideology that's driving this violence. But we know that he's not going to do that. We know who he is. And so it's almost like we can't expect him to. The most that we could expect it's hopefully for him to not make it worse on social media.
STELTER: A quick break with the panel. More RELIABLE SOURCES in just a moment.
[11:50:00] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
STELTER: More breaking news here on CNN as authorities learn more about the gunman in both El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio. First to Dayton, this just in from the CNN NEWSROOM. The Dayton shooters has been identified. We're going to read his name once and then we're going to move on. He is 24-year-old Connor Betts, B-E-T-T-S. He is as I said 24 years old.
FBI and local law enforcement authorities have served a search warrant at the shooters family's home that's in Bellbrook, Ohio outside Dayton. So we know the name of the shooter, 24-year-old Connor Betts. Obviously, the focus moves away from him and on to the victims, but now we have that identity.
Now we also getting more information out of El Paso about the shooter there. This suspect is in custody. Remember, this shooter in Dayton was taken down by police. The suspect in El Paso was arrested. He's now been interviewed by investigators. And we've been able to scour his social media accounts.
A Twitter account linked to suspected El Paso shooter, it has limited activity over the past couple of years but back in early 2017 his Twitter account shows the suspect sharing and retweeting President Trump's tweets, posting about the border wall as well as liking certain memes that were disparaging Bernie Sanders and Nancy Pelosi. So this is from the Twitter account of the suspect.
At one point in February 2017, he liked a post from an anonymous account showing Trump's name spelled out with guns. You might have seen that image floating around the internet. That is an image that the suspect liked on Twitter. He also a few days before that, in February 2017, posted a tweet saying build the wall, it's the best way POTUS has worked to secure our country so far.
So that was in 2017. The suspect has not posted a lot on social media since then. His Facebook account was essentially dormant, but that is some information just in from CNN's newsroom about the suspect in El Paso.
Back with me now for the last couple of minutes here on this hour Olivia Nuzzi, Wesley Lowery and Nikole Hannah-Jones. I think it's important, Olivia, when we talk about the political preferences of a gunman. It doesn't necessarily mean a lot. It's worth noting but it doesn't mean a lot.
[11:55:20] NUZZI: Sure. And I think that it's difficult for us to speculate about exactly what drove him. All that we know is that he did it, right. We know what actions he took. We know what effect it's had on the country and on these families who were directly affected by it.
STELTER: I think we have to ask -- these are white men in both cases. Wesley, if this has been a black or a brown man that walked into these buildings, walked in these areas, I think we'd be calling it terrorism a lot faster.
LOWERY: Certainly. And there's a rhetorical question here as well as a tactical and political question here, right. The first is that you know, you see statements like from Governor Abbott in Texas who said it's too early to make this about politics. It's very hard to believe that this person had posted an ISIS manifesto or had had no last post had been Black Lives Matter before the shooting that this would not have been immediately politicized by the right wing.
NUZZI: And I'll also say, all these -- everyone always says, it's too early to politicize this. It's too early to politicize this. We now have a few hours in between mass shootings so when can we politicize this?
LOWERY: There's not enough time for the politics.
STELTER: So Nikole, we have 30 seconds left, last word to you on this today.
HANNAH-JONES: We have a domestic terror problem in this country and we need to treat that the same way that we would treat this if this were terrorism coming from outside of our borders. There would be calls to investigate these groups, to go after these groups, yet we see no calls to go after white nationalist groups, and no calls to address the ideology that is radicalizing white men born on American soil.
STELTER: To our panel, thank you very much. Jake Taper continues CNN's live coverage in just a moment.