Trump Revives ‘Enemy’ Label Against Media After Synagogue Attack
(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump on Monday revived his characterization of the press as the “Enemy of the People,” even as his aides insist he’s promoting unity following last week’s attempted pipe bomb attacks on CNN and top Democrats and a deadly mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue.
“The Fake News Media, the true Enemy of the People, must stop the open & obvious hostility & report the news accurately & fairly,” Trump said in a posting on Twitter.
Trump since taking office has denigrated the U.S. media, often singling out CNN, as “fake news” and as recently as Aug. 30 used the phrase “enemy of the people” after the first reports emerged about the content of Bob Woodward’s book, “Fear: Trump in the White House,” a harrowing account in which the president’s aides are constantly putting out fires.
An attack in Pittsburgh during Saturday services left 11 people dead, many of them elderly, in what’s being investigated as a hate crime by a suspect who allegedly posted on social media blaming a Jewish nonprofit that helps resettle refugees for bringing “invaders in that kill our people.”
On Friday, a Florida man known to have attended Trump campaign events was charged in connection with mailing at least 13 suspected explosive devices that targeted high-profile Democrats, including former President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Two packages were addressed to former U.S. intelligence officials John O. Brennan and James Clapper at the New York headquarters of CNN, for which Clapper is now an analyst.
With midterm elections that will determine control of Congress eight days away, the violence has taken on political significance. Trump, who an adviser said plans to “barnstorm the country” with as many as a dozen rallies, has said the attacks distract from his party’s message to voters.
“Now this ‘Bomb’ stuff happens and the momentum greatly slows - news not talking politics,” Trump said in a Friday tweet. “Very unfortunate, what is going on. Republicans, go out and vote!”
Trump’s latest jab at the media comes as Vice President Mike Pence and White House aides try to tamp down the assertion that the president’s words have sown divisiveness or emboldened the men behind either event. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said the president has made it “extremely clear” that political violence won’t take root in the country.
“People on both sides of the aisle use strong language about our political differences, but I just don’t think you can connect it to threats or acts of violence,” Pence told NBC News in an in interview on Saturday.
White House adviser Kellyanne Conway said Monday on the “Fox & Friends” program that Trump has attempted to unite the country amid the tensions and those looking to fault Trump need to “cut it out.”
“You’ve got to call it what it is,” she said. “This president is calling on us to come together.”
Last week, Trump before the shooting said he would end political violence but pushed back on the notion that he should dial back his own words. “I think I’ve been toned down, if you want to really know the truth,” he said. “I could really tone it up.”
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