Searching for answers as US headlines shift from tragedy to tragedy

A version of this article first appeared in the Reliable Sources newsletter. You can sign up for free right here.

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Brian Stelter
, CNN Business
(CNN) — A version of this article first appeared in the Reliable Sources newsletter. You can sign up for free right here.

America can't catch its breath

That's what "Reliable Sources" producer Shanta Covington said in our production meeting on Saturday. And she's absolutely right. It feels like America cannot catch its breath right now. We veer from a screaming match to a tragedy; from a controversy to a hate crime; from a scandal to an emergency. We are stronger than it seems — but it seems like some fundamental parts of the American fabric are being ripped apart.

LEAD STORY: The suspect in the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting talked and talked and talked about his hatred of Jews. He filled up his Gab profile with anti-Semitic posts. And then he opened fire on Saturday morning, killing eleven people.

May their memories be a blessing

Here are CNN's profiles of the 11 victims.

What was the gunman reading and hearing?

According to his Gab postings, the suspect's anti-Semitism merged with his hatred of immigrants. He wrote about "invaders" six days before the shooting.The same term blanketed right-wing media in relation to the migrant caravan this month. And he apparently noticed. He wrote, "I have noticed a change in people saying 'illegals' that now say 'invaders'. I like this."

On Saturday morning, he specifically criticized the refugee organization HIAS when he said "I'm going in." The shooting began a few minutes later...

→ Recommended reading: "A conspiracy theory about George Soros and a migrant caravan inspired horror" by WaPo's Joel Achenbach...

→ Adam Serwer's blunt conclusion in this piece for The Atlantic: "Trump's Caravan Hysteria Led to This."

"The words are leading to people doing things like this"

Dr. Jeff Cohen, the president of Allegheny General Hospital and a member of the synagogue, spoke with the alleged killer on Sunday. Cohen told CNN's Alex Marquardt that "the gentleman didn't appear to be a member of the Mensa society. He listens to the noise, he hears the noise. The noise was telling him his people were being slaughtered. He thought it was time to rise up and do something. He's completely confused, and the words mean things. The words are leading to people doing things like this."

Anchors in Pittsburgh

In a sign of the shooting's gravity, the broadcast networks dispatched their top weekday anchors to Pittsburgh. David Muir, Lester Holt and Jeff Glor all anchored their respective nightly newscasts from the city on Sunday night. Glor will be back on "CBS This Morning" on Monday along with co-host Bianna Golodryga. Savannah Guthrie will co-host "Today" from Pittsburgh. And Amy Robach and Matt Gutman will report from there for "GMA."

On cable, MSNBC's David Gura anchored from Pittsburgh on Sunday. CNN's Victor Blackwell co-anchored "New Day Sunday" and joined several hours of programming...


The past few days are a reminder: Some of our fellow citizens are being radicalized right now, right here on the internet. The shooting suspect is an example. The mail bomb suspect is another example.

To be clear: Criminals are responsible for their crimes. But crimes don't happen in a vacuum. People in public life are responsible for the culture, the tone, the climate where crimes occur. Both things are true at the same time. We have to re-examine America's poisoned information environment...

MY POINT: It's easier than ever to go down digital rabbit holes of hate and conspiracy theories and hoaxes. That's exactly what some people are doing... And they're doing crazy things as a result... BF's Charlie Warzel has two must-read pieces about this...

Gab is down (for now)

Gab bills itself as an alternative to Twitter, a free speech utopia where almost anything goes... But in reality it's a favored site of bigots and hate groups. After Saturday's shooting, the site came under newfound scrutiny, as I reported here with Paul P. Murphy...

THE LATEST: Gab said it removed the alleged killer's profile and cooperated with law enforcement. The site vowed to stay online. But by Sunday evening, it shut down — at least temporarily — a notice to users said "we have been systematically no-platformed by App Stores, multiple hosting providers, and several payment processors." So "as we transition to a new hosting provider Gab will be inaccessible for a period of time..."

Read more of Sunday's Reliable Sources newsletter... And subscribe here to receive future editions in your inbox...

FT editor urges Fox boycott

Edward Luce, the US national editor for the Financial Times, went viral with this tweet on Saturday:

"The most effective thing Americans can do is boycott companies that advertise on Fox. They bankroll the poison that goes from the studio into Trump's head. The second is vote." Almost 8,000 RT's and counting...


-- Jim Rutenberg's Monday column asks: "How long will it take the news media come up with a more effective way to counter the litany of baseless claims washing through the news cycle? At this rate, a solution may come sometime in Mr. Trump's third term." (NYT)

-- Here's an example of a Trump lie that most people just skipped over. He "defended his choice" to hold a rally hours after the Pittsburgh attack "by saying NYSE opened a day after the Sept. 11 attacks." But "that isn't true," Devan Cole's story notes... (CNN)

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