The Washington Post received backlash for an article published over the weekend in which the newspaper linked James T. Hodgkinson, the gunman who shot House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R., La.) and several others last month, to a talk radio host who supports President Donald Trump.
Scalise was shot in the hip on June 14 along with four others after Hodgkinson opened fire on Republican lawmakers at a congressional baseball practice in Alexandria, Va. Hodgkinson was an avid supporter of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) who had a deep hatred of Republicans and Trump.
Hodgkinson's hometown was Belleville, Ill., which was enough for the Post to connect him to local talk radio host and Trump supporter, Bob Romanik.
It's not yet 11 a.m., and Bob Romanik, sitting behind the microphone at his radio station in a rundown strip mall in the middle of America, already has said the "n-word" out loud—and on air—at least a dozen times.
Romanik is a surly 68-year-old former East St. Louis street cop. He hates Black Lives Matter and talks proudly about his Caucasian heritage to anyone who will listen. And do they listen. His controversy-courting radio program—he's the self-styled "Grim Reaper of Radio" on KQQZ 1190 AM—reaches across this region, in and around Belleville, Ill.
The suburban community about 20 miles east of St. Louis drew attention in recent weeks because it was the hometown of James T. Hodgkinson, the out-of-work politically frustrated home inspector who up and left, drove a van to the Washington area, and then shot four people at a congressional baseball practice in Alexandria.
The nation was shocked, but Romanik—who seems to delight in launching savage attacks on local politicians and stoking his listeners' many frustrations about race, crime, and government—certainly wasn't. Despite being a die-hard supporter of President Trump who has perfected the art of the dire populist message, many of Romanik's biggest fans in southern Illinois are disgruntled Democrats like Hodgkinson.
The article—titled "In Alexandria shooter's hometown, rage-filled radio host channels middle America's inner frustration"—was widely criticized on social media for appearing to imply that Romanik's rhetoric motivated Hodgkinson to carry out his attack.
Revision of year: WP suggests, without evidence, Alexandria shooter was inspired by right-wing bigoted radio talker. https://t.co/97tHJDrofH
— Byron York (@ByronYork) July 8, 2017
Like blaming Oswald on right-wing Dallas, as the NYT still does.
— Ramesh Ponnuru (@RameshPonnuru) July 8, 2017
This is so dumb.
A. The shooter was a Bernie Sanders supporter and fan of Maddow
B. Nobody outside of St. Louis knows who that is.
— Jay Caruso (@JayCaruso) July 8, 2017
What's the point of this? The shooter hated Trump and there's no indication in the story he listened to this pro-Trump host. https://t.co/7mb4nLIjT6
— Katherine Miller (@katherinemiller) July 8, 2017