WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump continued to blame the media for anger and polarization in the political sphere, calling the “fake news media” the “true enemy of the people.”
He’s used the reference before, but in the wake of a deadly shooting rampage at a Pittsburgh synagogue and the mailing of pipe bombs to some of Trump’s high profile critics, he’s tried to pin the blame for the toxic political environment on the news media.
He wrote on Twitter on Monday, “There is great anger in our Country caused in part by inaccurate, and even fraudulent, reporting of the news. The Fake News Media, the true Enemy of the People, must stop the open & obvious hostility & report the news accurately & fairly. That will do much to put out the flame… of Anger and Outrage and we will then be able to bring all sides together in Peace and Harmony. Fake News Must End!”
Trump has used the phrase “enemy of the people” or “enemy of the American people” 12 times on Twitter to describe the “fake news” media. He’s called them the “real enemy of the people” twice. This was the first time he’s used the phrase “true enemy of the people,” as if to further amplify the message.
With just eight days until the midterm elections, Trump has been escalating his rhetoric against the news media, something that has proven to resonate with many of his core supporters.
He’s continued to do so, in interviews and at rallies, even after the discovery last week of a pipe bomb in a suspicious package delivered to CNN’s mailroom in New York, forcing the evacuation of its headquarters there. Another package was discovered at a mail facility in Atlanta on Monday, as CNN president Jeff Zucker announced that all mail was being screened off site.
Cesar Sayoc, 56, was arrested on Friday and is being charged with five federal crimes in connection with the mailings of the explosive devices. He was apprehended outside a white van he owned that was covered in photos of Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, and some anti-media messages, including “CNN sucks.”
Jim Sciutto, co-anchor of “CNN Newsroom,” which was on the air during the evacuation of the CNN headquarters on Wednesday, said in response to Trump’s tweet, “Mr. President @realDonaldTrump I watched my team escorted out of our NY HQ five days ago as the NYPD isolated a bomb in our building. We reported the facts, as we always do. We are not fake news. We are journalists doing our jobs as best we can every day.”
Chuck Todd, the moderator of “Meet the Press,” was one of many who took to social media to criticize Trump’s statement. “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; Try living by the mantra ‘two wrongs don’t make a right.’ But then that would mean cutting back on stoking the division,” he wrote on Twitter.
Maggie Haberman of The New York Times weighed in saying, “This isn’t a lack of understanding of the impact of these words. This is a strategy. Describing it as ‘he doesn’t get it’ is a form of grading on a curve. Or it’s a form of rationalizing why people in government either in the executive or the legislative branch are averting their gaze from what anyone can see is pouring gas on a fire that burned for days last week in the form of pipe bombs.”