A Washington Post interview with a White House official garnered stunned reactions on social media when the anonymous staffer said that last week’s school shooting in Parkland, Florida had offered the Trump administration a “reprieve” from negative media coverage.
“For everyone, it was a distraction or a reprieve,” said the official. “A lot of people here felt like it was a reprieve from seven or eight days of just getting pummeled. But as we all know, sadly, when the coverage dies down a little bit, we’ll be back through the chaos.”
The quote, which many saw as reflecting the administration’s callous view of the shooting that killed 17 people and injured 14, was quickly denounced on social media.
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The shooting followed several days of media coverage of physical abuse allegations against former White House staff secretary Rob Porter and suspicions that administration officials knew about the allegations far earlier than they admitted. It also came after ongoing coverage of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into President Donald Trump’s ties to Russia, and reporting on the aftermath of the attack coincided with the news of Mueller’s indictment of 13 Russian nationals for meddling in the 2016 election.
In light of the national response to the Parkland shooting, however, it appears unlikely that the White House’s self-described “reprieve” from criticism will last long.
Students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where Nikolas Cruz opened fire last Wednesday, have directly attacked Trump’s failure to address gun control in the days after the shooting. Emma Gonzalez was among those who angrily called out the president for taking millions of dollars in donations from the National Rifle Association (NRA), which has aggressively promoted sales of the AR-15, the military-style semi-automatic firearm that was used to kill her classmates as well as dozens of other Americans in recent years.
Students in Washington, D.C. also held a “lie-in” demonstration on Monday, and young people across the country are planning nationwide protests in the coming months to demand stricter gun legislation.