Freedom in America: Kentucky Newspaper Shooting is the Latest Attack on U.S. Press

Police in Kentucky suspect that the windows of the Lexington Herald-Leader newspaper were shot at over the weekend, marking the latest violent attack on the American press.

While there is no confirmed motive for the shooting, and no suspects are in custody, the paper reported that several windows were broken by what police believe is small-caliber bullet damage. Three exterior windows were shattered, while two windows on the upper level on the paper's press room were shot at, but not destroyed. Lexington police say they're investigating the incident as criminal mischief.

No employees were harmed in the suspected shooting.

Police believe the incident occured on Sunday morning between 9:45 a.m. and 11 a.m., based on a review of security camera footage. David Folkenflik, NPR's media correspondent, tweeted on Monday that it's "hard not to see this in terms of current climate" of animosity against the media in the U.S.

The suspected shooting comes days after Ben Jacobs, a reporter for the Guardian, was body slammed by Greg Gianforte, then a congressional candidate in Montana, after asking him a question about the House healthcare bill. The next day, Gianforte was elected to Congress. The attack on Jacobs followed a string of incidents against reporters, including Nathaniel Herz, an Alaska Dispatch News reporter, who told police he was slapped in the face by a state-level politician. Earlier this month, West Virginia reporter Dan Heyman was arrested after attempting to ask Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price a question.

Related: Montana's Greg Gianforte and what really happened with Guardian reporter

President Donald Trump has made little effort to hide his contempt for the press. In addition to constantly tweeting about so-called "fake news," Trump earlier this year called journalists "the enemy of the American people." The president also threatened to stop press conferences, unless he does them himself.

"We're going to be vigilant and continue to do what we do," said the paper's publisher Rufus M. Friday. "We're not going to be deterred by this senseless act of vandalism." Friday added that the incident was "concerning," especially given the level of vitriol against the press in recent months.

Peter Baniak, editor of the paper, told The Huffington Post that "it is difficult not to be concerned given some of the rhetoric, both nationally and here in Kentucky." Teri Carter, a political op-ed columnist for the paper, tweeted on Monday: "I am threatened weekly, sometimes daily. I am not the enemy."

On Tuesday, Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin, who last week compared reporters to "cicadas," said "there's a lot unknown" about Sunday's incident. He called the act "irresponsible" and "inappropriate," but added, "let's get the facts before we overreact." Bevin has previously criticized the Lexington Herald-Leader and the Courier-Journal as two news outlets that "don't actually seem to care about Kentucky."

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