Post Pittsburgh shooting, Trump blames media for 'anger,' singles out CNN as 'fake news'
WASHINGTON – In the wake of a bomb plot and a mass killing at a synagogue in Pittsburgh, President Donald Trump has again blamed the media for anger that has turned deadly – something his critics say only stokes division.
"There is great anger in our Country caused in part by inaccurate, and even fraudulent, reporting of the news," Trump tweeted Monday morning.
Again referring to the "Fake News Media" as the "true Enemy of the People," Trump said journalists "must stop the open & obvious hostility & report the news accurately & fairly. That will do much to put out the flame."
Later Monday, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders argued that "the very first thing the media did" after the shooting was "blame the president." She refused to specifically name outlets that Trump believed were fake.
Hours later on Twitter, Trump singled out CNN as being in the "Fake News Business" and added that there was a "very big difference" between legitimate and false news outlets.
"CNN and others in the Fake News Business keep purposely and inaccurately reporting that I said the “Media is the Enemy of the People.” Wrong!," Trump tweeted. "I said that the “Fake News (Media) is the Enemy of the People,” a very big difference. When you give out false information - not good!"
In a second tweet, Trump wrote, "Check out tweets from last two days. I refer to Fake News Media when mentioning Enemy of the People - but dishonest reporters use only the word “Media.” The people of our Great Country are angry and disillusioned at receiving so much Fake News. They get it, and fully understand!"
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The Florida man suspected of sending a series of suspicious packages through the mail addressed two envelopes with bomb-like devices to CNN.
Critics of the president have said it is the president's aggressive rhetoric – which often attacks his political opponents, the media and the like – that creates division and can lead unbalanced people to contemplate violence.
Chuck Todd of NBC News tweeted in response: "If you actually believe media is the problem then the last thing one should do is respond with your own hate and anger ... Try leading; try setting an example."
Trump sets a tone "of division, often one of hatred, sometimes one of incitement of violence against journalists, and there is no escaping our responsibility," Rep. Adam Schiff, D-California, said Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union."
Last week, authorities arrested a Trump supporter for allegedly mailing pipe bombs to political opponents, including former President Barack Obama and 2016 Trump election opponent Hillary Clinton.
Trump has condemned both the bombing plot and the synagogue shooting. Last week, in the wake of the bomb threats, he seemed to attempt a more somber tone and refrained from calling the media "fake."
But even then, he still laid some of the blame for the politically charged atmosphere on the media.
Following the Pittsburgh shooting, in which a gunman killed 11 people at the Tree of Life synagogue, Trump again lashed out at the media Sunday night.
He again tweeted about "fake news," saying it was "doing everything in their power to blame Republicans, Conservatives and me for the division and hatred that has been going on for so long in our Country. Actually, it is their Fake & Dishonest reporting which is causing problems far greater than they understand!"
Julian Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University, called Trump's reactions "utterly predictable."
"Nothing distracts President Trump from his political message," Zelizer said. "He has a series of opponents, with the media right up top, and crises, scandals, and turmoil does not distract him from returning to these themes. He is refusing to let the events of the past week control the agenda, and he is finding a way to fit the pipe bombs, the shooting and more into his familiar narrative of his being unfairly attacked by the media."
CNN's Jim Acosta, a frequent target of Trump's attacks, laid it out simply Monday, following Trump's latest tweet.
"We are not the enemy of the people," he wrote on Twitter. "I am not your enemy. You are not my enemy. It is wrong to call your fellow Americans the enemy. We are all on the same team. We are all Americans."
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