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Where Is the Manifesto?

State of the Union: Officials promised to release the Tennessee shooter’s manifesto, but now are changing their tune.

Nashville School Shooting
(Photo by Johnnie Izquierdo for The Washington Post via Getty Images)

More than two weeks have passed since six people, including three children, were killed by a transgender-identifying shooter at a Christian elementary school in Tennessee. Law enforcement at the time indicated that the shooter left a manifesto behind, which officials confirmed would be released after review by the FBI. Now, a local news affiliate reports that officials believe there is no "manifesto" at all, only "a series of rambling writings indicating no clear motive."

In that case, they should have no problem releasing them. It's possible, as officials claim, that the shooter's writings don't indicate a "clear motive." It's also possible, given public pressure from several LGBT groups not to release the manifesto, that the word "clear" is doing a lot of work.


Mainstream outlets treat some tragedies as representative, and others as aberrations. When it was revealed that the shooter in last year's Buffalo massacre was a proponent of "replacement theory," Vanity Fair and other outlets tied the shooting to Tucker Carlson and other immigration restrictionists, suggesting they enabled and were partially culpable for the carnage. When a shooter who identified as transgender killed three nine-year-olds at a Christian elementary school at a moment of progressive moral panic about the rights of people who identify as transgender, the story was out of the headlines in less than a week.

If officials aren't pressured to disclose these documents, odds are they won't.