Trump Intensifies Media Attacks as More Mail Bombs Are Discovered

President Donald Trump speaks about crude pipe bombs targeting Hillary Clinton, former President Barack Obama, CNN and others, during an event on the opioid crisis, in the East Room of the White House, in WashingtonTrump Explosive Devices, Washington, USA - 24 Oct 2018
Evan Vucci/AP/REX

President Donald Trump stepped up his attacks on the news media, blaming it for the angry political environment as questions are raised on what motivated one or more individuals to send pipe bombs to CNN and other top Democrats. The intemperate tweets came less than a day after the president had called for national unity.

On Thursday morning, Trump tweeted that “a very big part of the Anger we see today in our society is caused by the purposely false and inaccurate reporting of the Mainstream Media that I refer to as Fake News,” Trump wrote. “It has gotten so bad and hateful that it is beyond description. Mainstream Media must clean up its act, FAST!”

Trump also called out the media at a rally in Wisconsin on Wednesday evening, although he made a more general call for civil discourse. The president lashed out at the New York Times as well on Thursday. The subject of his ire was a piece in the paper reporting that calls made on his cell phone were being monitored by the Russians and Chinese. Trump called the story “fake news.”

The FBI is investigating the source of as many as nine separate packages, including explosive devices, that were sent to CNN and other figures who have been Trump’s critics. They include former president Barack Obama and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton.

Former CIA Director John Brennan, who was the intended recipient of the package sent to CNN, responded to Trump’s Thursday tweet, writing, “Stop blaming others. Look in the mirror. Your inflammatory rhetoric, insults, lies, & encouragement of physical violence are disgraceful. Clean up your act….try to act Presidential. The American people deserve much better. BTW, your critics will not be intimidated into silence.”

CNN president Jeff Zucker on Wednesday chided the White House for a “total and complete lack of understanding” about the “seriousness of their continued attacks on the news media.” CNN evacuated its New York headquarters for hours as authorities removed the device.

But White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, arriving at the White House on Thursday, complained that the media continued to focus on the negative in coverage of Trump. She said that it was “absolutely ridiculous” to blame the president for the mailing of the pipe bombs.

She responded to Zucker on Twitter, saying, that Trump “asked Americans ‘to come together and send one very clear, strong, unmistakable message that acts or threats of political violence of any kind have no place in the USA.’ Yet you chose to attack and divide. America should unite against all political violence.”

It appears as though the reaction to the mail bombs is splitting along partisan lines. On Monday, Fox News issued a statement condemning the threats and saying that the network stood with CNN. However, one prominent member of the Fox News family appears to be deviating from that message. Fox Business’ Lou Hobbs suggested that the pipe bomb mailings were a hoax. He tweeted, “Fake News–Fake Bombs Who could possibly benefit by so much fakery?#MAGA #AmericaFirst#Dobbs.” He later deleted the tweet.

On Thursday morning he wrote, “Fake News has just successfully changed the narrative from the onslaught of illegal immigrants and broken border security to “suspicious packages”: Let’s get back to Left-Wing driven Caravans and the Dimms who encourage them! #MAGA #AmericaFirst #Dobbs.”