President Trump again blamed the media for the state of political discourse, faulting them for any suggestion that he and Republicans somehow bore responsibility for a suspect to mail out pipe bombs to top Democrats and other Trump critics.
At the rally in Charlotte, the crowd chanted “CNN sucks,” as Trump cast blame on news outlets for “unfair coverage, deep hostility and negative attacks” that “only serve to drive people apart and to undermine healthy debate.”
“For example, we have seen the efforts by the media to use the sinister actions by one individual to score political points against me and the Republican party,” he said.
Cesar Sayoc, 56, was arrested in Plantation, Fla., on Friday near his white van, which was covered in pro-Trump stickers, including photos of the president, and one that read, “CNN sucks.” He faces six federal charges, but authorities have not commented on a motive.
At the rally, Trump said “when a Bernie Sanders supporter tried to murder congressional Republicans and severely wounded a great man named Steve Scalise and others, we did not use that heinous attempt for mass murder for political gain because that would have been wrong. It would be the wrong thing do. Nor do we blame the Democrat [sic] party every time radical leftists seize and destroy public property and unleash violence and mayhem.”
“Yet the media has tried to attack the incredible Americans who support our movement to give power back to the people.”
Trump, though, recently praised a Montana congressman, Greg Gianforte, for body slamming a reporter. Trump retweeted a doctored video in which a wrestler body slams a man with the letters “CNN” superimposed on his head. At one of his raucous rallies during the 2016 campaign, he told the crowd, “If you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them… Just knock the hell. I promise you I will pay for the legal fees, I promise.”
At Friday’s rally, Trump praised law enforcement for apprehending the suspect and said that “political violence must never ever be allowed in America, and I will do everything in my power to stop it.”
But he did not make mention of any of his previous statements. As he left on the trip to Charlotte, a reporter asked him whether he would pledge to “tone it down” in his rhetoric.
“I think I’ve toned down, if you want to know the truth,” he said. “I could really tone it up.”
Former President Barack Obama, in a speech on Friday in Milwaukee, said that Trump’s calls for civility ignore
“I’m hoping you think it’s wrong to hear people spend years, months vilifying people, questioning their patriotism, calling them enemies of the people, and then suddenly you’re concerned about civility,” Obama said. “Please!”