The pattern most politicians followed in the wake of the Parkland school shooting, which left 17 people dead, was infuriatingly familiar: Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) tweeted his prayers for the victims while quickly taking to the Senate floor to argue against any sort of gun control legislation. President Trump delivered remarks about the shooting but failed to mention the word “gun” once. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) blamed Democrats for “politicizing” the tragedy so soon.
America’s newspapers, however, took a much more forceful approach. The front pages of the two main New York tabloids — the New York Daily News and the New York Post, one of Trump’s go-to papers — implored the president to take action on gun control. Daily News’ cartoonist Bill Bramhall also published a cartoon featuring Trump carelessly throwing paper towels at school shooting victims, lying in their own blood. The reference was a throwback to last October, when the president visited Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria and launched rolls of paper towels into a crowd of victims waiting in line for supplies.
The president’s favorite paper pic.twitter.com/3mfM2O6PtJ
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) February 16, 2018
Columbine, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, Stoneman Douglas … is my school next, mommy? https://t.co/kgasj6bf37
An early look at Friday's front: pic.twitter.com/SUZ8YZIvuT
— New York Daily News (@NYDailyNews) February 16, 2018
The Boston Globe chose to dedicate its powerful front page spread to the next mass shooting, stating that, like the Parkland shooting, it would “follow the same sad script.”
“He will be a man, or maybe still a boy,” the paper wrote. “He will have a semiautomatic rifle — an AR-15 or something like it — and several high-capacity magazines filled with ammunition. The weapon will have been purchased legally, the background check no obstacle. He will walk into a school, or a concert, or an office building. And he will open fire into a crowd of innocents.”
On its front page, the Boston Globe pre-covers the next mass shooting.
"There are only three things we don't know about the next time: Who, where, and how many?" pic.twitter.com/lskXgZgry7
— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) February 16, 2018
Articles in The New York Times and the Economist further captured the tragic exasperated frustration many feel about the U.S. government’s chronic inability to offer any sort of response to the epidemic of mass shootings that continues to grip the nation.
“America seems unable to solve a scourge that exists nowhere else,” read one headline in the Economist, echoing the now-famous headline first published by Onion, which has been recycled for every mass shooting.
“Once again a nation send thoughts and prayers, because it has happened once again,” the Times’ Dan Barry wrote. “Deadly shootings in schools — that is, the killing of children in sanctuaries of learning — have become a distinctly American ritual.”
When I wrote this headline, I had no idea it would be applied to the high school a mile from my house. https://t.co/Vm1jCaiugo
— Jason Roeder (@jasonroeder) February 15, 2018
Perhaps the most important piece of journalism surrounding this latest mass shooting came from David Hogg, a student reporter at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. After being forced into a closet to hide from the shooter, Hogg interviewed other students about what was happening.
“If you looked around this closet and you saw everyone hiding together you would know that this shouldn’t be happening anymore and that it doesn’t deserve to happen to anyone,” one student told him, in a video later circulated on social media. “No amount of money should make it more easily accessible to get guns.”
Trump’s response to the tragedy in Florida has so far completely ignored the demands of the teenagers caught up in the shooting, many of whom have pleaded tearfully with the president in television interviews to focus on gun reform. The president’s speech on Thursday was also noticeably devoid of the kind of policy discussion the survivors had demanded.
“No child, no teacher, should ever be in danger in an American school. No parent should ever have to fear for their sons and daughters when they kiss them goodbye in the morning,” Trump said. “It is not enough to simply take actions that make us feel like we are making a difference. We must actually make that difference.”
The president stated that he would be meeting with the nation’s governors and attorneys general later in the month, saying that “making our schools and our children safer” would be the group’s “top priority.”
He did not offer any details about which specific topics would be discussed.