A caller threatened to shoot up CNN. Was it Trump’s fault?

One could reasonably argue that Trump isn’t to blame for what others do or say. On the other hand, one could also posit that when the president targets journalists or media institutions by name in his frequent “fake news” rants, he bears some responsibility for what happens as a result, assuming a direct connection can be made.

Trump has said, after all, that he prefers Twitter to reporters because he can talk directly to people. Tweeting for him is like whispering in someone’s ear — a few million at a time. This false intimacy can be almost like having a conversation, as I’ve heard many of his supporters say. Given this perception and the relative novelty of social media, is it time to expand the definition of conspiracy or to tweak laws against yelling “fire” in a crowded theater? When a pattern of incitement can be demonstrated, should the inciter be held accountable?

Excerpts from the calls, which were also laced with anti-Semitic and racist language, suggest a familiarity with the president’s messaging: