Kentucky Newspaper’s Windows Shattered Amid Rising Anti-Press Climate

Police believe someone may have fired a gun at the building.
The front page of the May 29 edition of the Lexington Herald-Leader.
The front page of the May 29 edition of the Lexington Herald-Leader.
Lexington Herald-Leader

The Lexington Herald-Leader is staying “vigilant” after several of its windows were shattered Sunday morning, editor Peter Baniak said Monday.

Police believe the damage is consistent with small-caliber bullet fire. No one was hurt in the incident, and authorities are investigating it as criminal mischief, the Herald-Leader reported.

“We need to keep doing what we do because it’s that important,” Baniak told HuffPost, adding that the paper’s staff “can’t be deterred from doing the work that we do because of an act of vandalism.”

The motive of the perpetrator, or perpetrators, is still unknown. But Sunday’s crime occurred amid increasing anti-press rhetoric and even some violence against members of the media.

Montana Republican Greg Gianforte attacked journalist Ben Jacobs Wednesday before going on to win a congressional election Thursday. Jacobs was the fourth reporter to either be manhandled or arrested in May for questioning candidates and public officials.

Baniak urged caution Monday against assuming the motive for Sunday’s crime. “We at the Herald-Leader want to be cautious about speculating and we don’t want to connect the dots until there are dots to be connected,” he said.

Still, Baniak told HuffPost that “it is difficult not to be concerned given some of the rhetoric, both nationally and here in Kentucky.”

President Donald Trump, who ran the most anti-press presidential campaign in recent memory, has continued trying to delegitimize the press while in office. On Sunday he again took a page from Stalin in labeling the “fake news” media as the “enemy.”

In Kentucky, Republican Gov. Matt Bevin last week called journalists “cicadas” as part of his ongoing feud with the press.

Bevin’s office issued a statement Monday condemning the vandalism, but warned against a rush to judgement on the motive.

“Gov. Bevin condemns all acts of vandalism against any individual or institution,” the statement read. “However, it is highly irresponsible to suggest a motive when we don’t even know the facts. This practice of journalism by innuendo is sloppy and reckless and was at the heart of the Governor’s comments last week.”

This article was updated with Bevin’s statement Monday.

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