The following morning, photographer Joshua McKerrow responded. McKerrow traveled annually to the Maryland governor’s mansion to cover the holiday decorations along with Capital Gazette reporter Wendi Winters—”a very light but very fun story.”
This year, Winters was not there. She was one of the five victims killed at The Capital offices in Annapolis on June 28.
Seeing Donald Trump’s continued assault on journalists at a time when violence against the Fourth Estate keeps escalating struck a chord with McKerrow. He replied to Trump in a now-viral Twitter thread that serves both to honor the memory of Wendi Winters, and to spotlight the very real dangers of Trump’s rhetoric.
1. Today I did the annual story on holiday decorations at the Governor's residence. I've done it every year, for years. A very light but very fun story. Every year my reporting partner was Wendi Winters. This year, it was Selene. Wendi was murdered in June. https://t.co/hDlixzieht— Joshua McKerrow (@joshuamckerrow) December 7, 2018
Winters was a 65-year-old veteran reporter and mother of four.
2. Selene did a great job, of course. And I really thought I could hold it together. I moved through the rooms with my tripod, focusing on the trees and ornaments. All I could think about was Wendi. I felt like she was with me, that she was actually present.— Joshua McKerrow (@joshuamckerrow) December 7, 2018
McKerrow describes how difficult it was for him to keep it together throughout the interviews as he remembered his slain colleague.
3. Not in a "ghost" sense, I hope she has moved on to a better world then Capital feature stories : ) But she was there in my mind. I could almost hear her voice echoing through the empty rooms. "How many cookies are you making this year?", her favorite question..— Joshua McKerrow (@joshuamckerrow) December 7, 2018
And then, he could keep it together no longer.
4. I was ok til the very end. Interviewed the butler, like I have every year, and when we were done she took me aside and whispered, "I really miss Wendi. Next year I'm going to name a cookie for her."— Joshua McKerrow (@joshuamckerrow) December 7, 2018
5. And that was it. The tears started, and I'm standing in the Maryland Governors home weeping to myself about my dead friend. She died in The Capital newsroom on June 28th, shot by a man who wanted to kill every journalist he could.— Joshua McKerrow (@joshuamckerrow) December 7, 2018
The gunman, later identified by police as Jarrod Ramos, entered the newsroom with a shotgun and began to fire. Along with Wendi Winters, he shot and killed Gerald Fischman, 61, Rob Hiaasen, 59, John McNamara, 56, and Rebecca Smith, 34.
McKerrow writes how one year after the shooting, the gunman’s motive remains unclear.
6. We don't know what set him off yet. After years of silence. What finally pushed him far enough that he loaded his shotgun, drove the 40 minutes from Laurel, parked his car, walked through the busy lobby, barricaded our back exit, blasted the simple fragile glass door.— Joshua McKerrow (@joshuamckerrow) December 7, 2018
7. Five people died, Rebecca, Wendi, Gerald, Rob, John. I always type their names in the order I think they were killed. I think, Rebecca first, at the door. Wendi charged him. Gerald and Rob were trapped in their cubicle. John, trying to get out the blocked exit.— Joshua McKerrow (@joshuamckerrow) December 7, 2018
“Wendi was no ones enemy,” wrote the photojournalist, in a direct reply to Trump’s tweet.
8. Wendi was no ones enemy.— Joshua McKerrow (@joshuamckerrow) December 7, 2018
9. Every year Wendi made us all Oreo holiday cookies. except for the one year she made us jarred pesto. The question came up yesterday in the newsroom, who is going to make the cookies this year? Selene spoke up, I will.— Joshua McKerrow (@joshuamckerrow) December 7, 2018
McKerrow says he doesn’t have a satisfying conclusion to his thread, but suggests that continuing to work as a journalist is the only way forward.
10. I don't have a wrap-up to this story. I cried on and off all day. I miss her very much. I'm comforted that in a way she's still with me, when I do the work that she loved to do. Journalism. Patriotic, truth telling, American. We'll keep on doing the work.— Joshua McKerrow (@joshuamckerrow) December 7, 2018
Even if it means death.
11. And if we die for it, someone else will pick up the threads, and report on the holiday decorations at the Governor's house. Its what we do. -30-— Joshua McKerrow (@joshuamckerrow) December 7, 2018
As The Washington Post points out, “Trump’s use of the phrase ‘enemy of the people’ to attack journalists has particularly worried historians, who point out that Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong all regularly used the term to attack domestic enemies — particularly truth-telling scholars and reporters.”
Thank you Joshua for sharing this devastating thread. Please read, everyone? https://t.co/7H8btWM4Yr— Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) December 7, 2018
Oh. This thread: https://t.co/F3XfbEYTCy— Soledad O'Brien (@soledadobrien) December 7, 2018
Last night, the president again called journalists "the enemy of the people." Photojournalist @joshuamckerrow works for the Capital Gazette, where a gunman killed 5 of his colleagues in June. This thread is his gentle, searing response. I held it together until #4. https://t.co/xHALASJWAD— Connie Schultz (@ConnieSchultz) December 7, 2018
This is about more than a few vitriolic tweets or unqualified federal appointments. This is not about ideology. You either stand for common decency or you are against it. I just need you to read this thread right now. https://t.co/dMhqs43l5k— G O L D I E. (@goldietaylor) December 7, 2018
When Trump calls media the enemy of the people, it’s more than words. It’s an offense to murdered journalists. Read this thread. https://t.co/ZEANvtiMmL— Charles Ornstein (@charlesornstein) December 7, 2018
When your reporting partner was murdered by a man inspired by someone’s anti-journalist rhetoric. https://t.co/EOlIPixGMJ— Molly Jong-Fast (@MollyJongFast) December 7, 2018
More disturbing is that while the true impetus for the president’s late-night outburst is unknown, the tweet came shortly after a phoned-in bomb threat led to the evacuation of CNN’s entire newsroom.
Tonight, Trump tweets that “fake news - enemy of the people.”— Michael Skolnik (@MichaelSkolnik) December 7, 2018
Minutes later CNN in NYC Is evacuated because of a bomb threat.
Dude should be charged with inciting violence. Enough already.
NYPD says they received a 911 call about a bomb threat to CNN at 10:07 p.m. Trump tweeted about fake news one minute later. https://t.co/vzVWxnOQ4R— Claudia Koerner (@ClaudiaKoerner) December 7, 2018
Reminder that a little over a month ago, a man sent bombs to CNN citing this language. https://t.co/8wx6NdhxbL— andrew kaczynski (@KFILE) December 7, 2018
This message from the President of the United States was followed by a bomb threat to the New York offices of CNN. This man must be impeached before he inspires more violence and further damage to our democracy. https://t.co/G0bUI8xIaL— Robert Reich (@RBReich) December 7, 2018
McKerrow’s thread has been retweeted nearly 40,000 times with messages of love and support.