San Francisco Columnist Writes Justification for Death Threats to Trump Cabinet Official

Writer says death threats to EPA's Scott Pruitt 'make a warped sort of sense'

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt / Getty Images
October 26, 2017

An article published on the San Francisco Chronicle's sister-site on Wednesday offers justification for the increased number of death threats to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, saying the threats "make a warped sort of sense."

The article by Mark Morford, whose biography says he has been writing for the Chronicle and sister-site SF Gate since 1998 and is described on the site as "one of the Bay Area's premier yoga instructors," describes Pruitt as a "banally evil, milquetoast, science-denying government administrator" who has been receiving a "surprising-but-then-again-not-really number of death threats."

"Scott Pruitt, the pallid, oily anti-environment corporate shill beloved by the least palatable humans in the corporate world, is getting a lot of death threats, up to five times more than any EPA head in history," writes Morford, who goes on to suggest that the death threats may be coming from "God herself."

"They are, perhaps, coming from environmental advocates, or teachers, or lovers of life and humanity and nature, or distraught mothers, worried that Pruitt’s actions will, quite correctly, endanger the lives of their children," Morford writes. "They are, most likely, coming from God herself."

Morford in the piece accuses Pruitt of creating a sound proof office space so he could "block out the screams of all the children, poor, and elderly he is harming and even (eventually) killing, more or less directly, as he whispers dreamy deregulation porn into the withered, cauliflower ears of coal barons, oil magnates and leathery brothers Koch."

Morford concludes the article by comparing Pruitt to the devil and saying the threats on his life make sense.

"Wherever [the death threats] are coming from, it does make a warped sort of sense," he writes. "What’s true for Pruitt and Trump is true for the devil himself. When you mean the world ill, the world will mean it right back at you."

Audrey Cooper, the Chronicle's editor in chief, would not comment on the contents of Morford's column, explaining that SF Gate "currently operates independently from the Chronicle newsroom and occasionally contracts with outside columnists, such as Mark Morford."

"I'm not going to comment on something I had no role in publishing," said Cooper. Cooper said Morford does not write for the Chronicle's newspaper or website.

The headline of Morford's piece changed from "Why do so many people want the E.P.A.'s Scott Pruitt Dead?" to "Why the EPA director’s security now costs $2 million" after the Washington Free Beacon's report.

By Friday, the article had been further edited to morph Morford's claim the death threats came from "God herself" to a claim that they came from "Mother Nature."

Morford also added an attack on the Washington Free Beacon as a "literalist, desperately unloved sect of right-wing sycophants" that "mis-read" his words.

"Wherever [the death threats] are coming from, it does make a warped, dangerous sort of sense," Morford's article now reads. "Unless you belong to that literalist, desperately unloved sect of right-wing sycophants who sacrificed all your critical thinking skills at the altar of neo-Nazi, pro-Trump Breitbartism, you surely understand: this is no advocacy for violence. Only the smallest of minds and most unstable of souls would mis-read my words in such a way."

Morford's final sentence, previously a reference to Pruitt being the devil, has also been changed to a claim that Pruitt is sending "death threats to the world and all who live on her."

"This is but a simple acknowledgement: when you send death threats to the world and all who live on her, the world will, quite naturally, send them right back," is how the article now ends.

There is no note by SF Gate that the article has been updated. Morford's biography on the site has also been changed, with the statement that he has written for the Chronicle removed.

Update October 27, 3:37 p.m.: This post has been further updated due to changes that were made to Morford's article following this report.