Before the physical assault, there was an information attack.
Before what was apparently an attempted assassination of a journalist, there was a character assassination of that journalist.
Two weeks before a knife-wielding man entered the offices of Ekho Moskvy and stabbed Tatyana Felgengauer, Russian state television ran a segment accusing the radio station of colluding with foreign powers to undermine the Russian state and society.
And the segment identified Felgengauer by name and showed her face on screen.
Now, we don't know the true motivations of Boris Grits, the 48-year-old man who attacked Felgengauer.
Initial reports have suggested he may be psychologically disturbed. But initial reports also suggest that his attack on Ekho Moskvy and on Felgengauer appeared very well-planned and very carefully executed.
But what we do know is that Kremlin-controlled media has consistently fed an atmosphere of hate and suspicion against independent journalists and opposition figures.
They've been called "enemies of the people." They've been called "traitors." And they've been called "foreign agents."
Just last month, another Ekho Moskvy journalist, Yulia Latynina, fled Russia after being assaulted multiple times in Moscow -- including an arson attack on her car and having a canister of feces thrown at her on the street.
When state media dehumanizes journalists and opposition figures and brands them as enemies, it's all too predictable that somebody somewhere is going to take that as a license to assault them with impunity.
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