O say, can you see a controversy?
The internet was fuming yesterday after reports emerged that President Donald Trump denied a request to lower the nation’s flags to half-staff in memory of the five Capital Gazette journalists killed in Annapolis, Maryland.
“This was an attack on the press,” he said. “It was an attack on freedom of speech. It’s just as important as any other tragedy.”
But then this morning, Trump pulled an abrupt about-face. He said all flags at the White House, public buildings and military posts should be lowered to half-staff today in honor of the slain journalists.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump gave the order as soon as he heard about Buckley’s request and verified that it was legitimate.
But reporters on Twitter noted that Sanders only made the announcement after the Capital Gazette reported on Trump’s initial refusal.
According to the United States Flag Code, the president has wide discretion when it comes to flying flags at half-staff. Trump has allowed flags to be lowered upon the death of notable public figures like Barbara Bush and Billy Graham.
He has also ordered flags at half-staff after other mass shootings in Parkland, Florida and Santa Fe, Texas.
The Capital Gazette shooting is a similar tragedy, so it makes sense that the president tardily granted Maryland’s request.
But the sincerity of Trump’s gesture was belied by his Twitter account.
In a tweet about North Korea this morning, Trump blasted ‘Fake News” and “the Opposition Party” for their coverage of his actions.
Given that it’s only been five days since the Capital Gazette shooting, many journalists called him out over his harsh rhetoric.
Hopefully the president and all Americans remember the sacrifice of these reporters this Fourth of July.