Three days after White House deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders famously said, “The president in no way, form, or fashion has ever promoted or encouraged violence,” the man in question tweeted a bizarre, doctored video of him tackling and punching “CNN.”
President Donald Trump, who is more potent at inciting violence by tweeting inflammatory statements than he is at running the country, shared a clip from his 2007 appearance on Wrestle Mania that showed the president body slamming and punching a man with the CNN’s logo superimposed on his head.
The video was apparently from Reddit and he only captioned it with, “#FraudNewsCNN #FNN.”
It was ridiculously inappropriate, even by Trump’s standards — and that says a lot.
Not only was it disturbing that the U.S. commander-in-chief would post something so aggressive and then retweet it from the official POTUS account, it was also alarming how with one single tweet he endorsed violence against journalists, whom he has already deemed public enemy.
“It is a sad day when the president of the United States encourages violence against reporters. Clearly, Sarah Huckabee Sanders lied when she said the president had never done so,” CNN said in a statement. “Instead of preparing for his overseas trip, his first meeting with Vladimir Putin, dealing with North Korea and working on his healthcare bill, he is instead involved in juvenile behavior far below the dignity of his office. We will keep doing our jobs. He should start doing his.”
Trump has had a long running feud with CNN and has branded the network as “fake news” and “fraudulent” a number of times. Many believe the president’s latest tweet demonstrated what he perceived to be his victory over the network, which recently saw three of its senior journalists resign over a story that linked a member of the Trump transition team with the head of a Russian investment fund.
However, one cannot deny the potential dangers that come with Trump tweeting something so incendiary.
“He is going to get somebody killed in the media. Maybe that will stop him,” said CNN political commentator and Republican strategist Ana Navarro. “He is surrounded by enablers that shake their heads and nod their heads at everything he says. They have got to stop. They have got to stand for democracy and for freedom of the press. This is just going way too far. The president of the United States is inciting violence against the free press. In America, we cannot stand for it.”
Her concerns are well founded — but unfortunately, the White House does not seem to care at all.
The Daily Beast cited an anonymous Trump aide saying, “The president fights back. It’s rich that some of you people [in the media] can never take a joke.”
White House staffers also allegedly claimed Director of Social Media Dan Scavino assisted in creating Trump’s attack on CNN.
“I thought it was funny,” an unnamed official told the publication. “Glad Scavino and the president did that.”
No matter how they try to spin it, assaulting someone or encouraging others to do the same is not funny at all.
White House Homeland Security Adviser Thomas Bossert also defended the vicious tweet.
“I’m proud of the president for developing a Twitter and a social media platform where he can talk directly to the American people,” he said. “In fact, he’s the most genuine president and the most non-politician president that we’ve seen in my lifetime. And he’s demonstrated — whatever the content of that particular tweet is or any tweet — he’s demonstrated a genuine ability to communicate to the people. I think that no one would perceive that as a threat. I hope they don’t.”
His statement is concerning and tone deaf, given that reporters are already being assaulted on job.
For instance, Montana Republican Rep. Greg Gianforte body-slammed Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs to the floor and broke his glasses — all because Jacobs dared to ask the then-candidate a simple question.
Gianforte ended up winning the election anyway, despite the fact the assault took place on the election eve.
If that does not show how most Trump fanatics do not find violence against journalists to be disturbing, nothing else does.
“Singling out individual journalists and news outlets creates a chilling effect and fosters an environment where further harassment and even physical attacks are seen to be acceptable,” Courtney Radsch, the advocacy director for the Committee to Protect Journalists, told the Guardian. “We are already concerned about physical attacks on reporters and clearly the White House’s charged rhetoric online undermines the media in the U.S. and emboldens autocratic leaders around the world.”
Trump’s bizarre CNN assault video came a few days after he launched an unmistakably sexist and misogynistic Twitter tirade against MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” co-host Mika Brzezinski, insulting her physical appearance and intellect.
Banner/thumbnail credit: Reuters