By Howard Kurtz
Published October 25, 2018
Suddenly it feels like democracy is under attack.
Explosive devices sent to a former president and a former first lady.
A suspicious package sent to a cable news network.
And a pipe bomb delivered to a major Democratic donor.
We can thank the Secret Service for the fact that the explosive devices never got anywhere near Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton.
The suspicious device sent to the CNN bureau in New York caused an evacuation of the entire Time Warner Center complex near Columbus Circle — with Jim Scuitto and Poppy Harlow forced to anchor on the street outside, using cell phones.
There was more, with suspicious packages addressed to Maxine Waters at the Capitol and to Eric Holder in Florida. The Holder package was redirected to Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s suburban Miami office, which was evacuated.
This followed the delivery of that pipe bomb to George Soros, the billionaire philanthropist and big-time Democrat who has become a bogeyman on the right.
The timing and similarity of the devices clearly suggest that the perpetrator or perpetrators are targeting nationally known Democrats. CNN says the package sent to its bureau was addressed to Obama’s former CIA director, John Brennan, who is actually an MSNBC contributor (his name was spelled wrong).
(Unfortunately, there was an erroneous CNN report, later corrected, that the White House also received a suspicious package.)
There is a natural assumption — without sliding into blatant speculation — that this is the work of a right-winger who hates the Democrats.
This is nothing less than a terrorist attack. And it feels like the hyperpolarized political atmosphere somehow spawned these episodes of attempted murder.
The Trump White House reacted quickly, calling out the "terrorizing attacks" as "despicable."
The president, while not mentioning any Democrats or his least favorite network by name, said he was "extremely angry, upset, unhappy" by the attacks, that "we have to unify," and that "political violence of any kind has no place in the United States of America."
I'm already seeing some online chatter that this is somehow Trump's fault, that he encourages violence, that haters are taking their cue from him. I do wish he would stop some of his crowds from chanting "lock her up," but a chant is not an incitement to violence.
I made the same argument last year when a Republican-hating lunatic nearly killed Steve Scalise and wounded others at a congressional baseball practice. Each side has its crazies, and their unhinged actions should not be used to tar leaders of either party.
The lack of any presidential recognition that the targets including a news organization prompted a stinging statement from CNN President Jeff Zucker, who complained of "a total and complete lack of understanding at the WH about the seriousness of their continued attacks on the media."
I covered the Unabomber’s reign of terror in the 1990s when The Washington Post and New York Times agreed to publish his incoherent manifesto in the hopes of stopping the killings-by-mail until that lunatic was finally tracked down. I also covered the anthrax attacks, which were aimed at prominent journalists, in the wake of 9/11. That's what terrorists do, use violence to spread fear in service of some agenda.
The latest attacks on Democrats and a news organization are reprehensible. It's a good thing that they were so amateurish that they failed.