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US media reacts to Trump's latest CNN attack

July 3, 2017

Tensions between the US media and Donald Trump have risen after the president tweeted a video that showed him hitting a man with a face covered by the CNN logo. Media groups and politicians condemned the tweet.

US-Präsident Donald Trump attackiert CNN auf Twitter
Image: picture alliance/NurPhoto/J. Arriens

Broadcaster CNN has accused Donald Trump of engaging in "juvenile behavior far below the dignity of his office," after the US president tweeted a short video clip that shows him pummeling a man in a business suit, with the man's face obscured by the CNN logo.

"Instead of preparing for his overseas trip, his first meeting with [Russian President] Vladimir Putin, dealing with North Korea and working on his health care bill, he is instead involved in juvenile behavior far below the dignity of his office," CNN said Sunday, referencing the meeting with Putin at the G20 summit in Hamburg later this week.

Read more: G20: Fun things to know about capitalism's big bash in Hamburg

Read more: Who's who in Hamburg's G20 protests

Dean Baquet, executive editor of The New York Times, called Trump's reaction "unseemly," while Annie Lowrey, a journalist with The Atlantic magazine, tweeted: "In seriousness, I am terrified that a journalist - perhaps one of the many political reporters I know and love - is going to end up dead."

Bruce Brown, the executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, said the video was a "threat of physical violence against journalists" and that Trump's tweet was "beneath the office of the presidency."

Bill Kristol, a conservative commentator and editor-at-large of The Weekly Standard, compared Trump's actions to behavior that caused the fall of the Roman Empire. 

"The speed with which we're recapitulating the decline and fall of Rome is impressive. What took Rome centuries we're achieving in months," Kristol wrote in a tweet.

United in condemnation

Both Republicans and Democrats also decried Trump's recent posts as sexist and vulgar. Republican officials said Sunday that Trump's Twitter feed is distracting from work like the stalled health care bill.

"We in Washington, we in the country, cannot be focused on tweets," said Republican Senator Bill Cassidy on NBC's "Meet the Press." "I get so frustrated when we get focused on tweets."

John Kasich, the Republican governor of Ohio, said he hoped Trump's family would talk to him and say, "Knock it off."

"The coarseness doesn't help anybody," he said, appearing on ABC's "This Week."

Republican Senator Ben Sasse said on CNN that there is a difference between complaining about bad coverage and "trying to weaponize distrust."

Democrat Nancy Pelosi, the House Minority Leader, also condemned Trump's tweets, saying "violent imagery to bully the press must be rejected."


The video, posted early Sunday, appears to be a doctored 28-second clip of Trump's 2007 appearance on the World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. show called "Battle of the Billionaires," in which he appears to attack WWE CEO Vince McMahon. The video was posted several days ago by a Reddit user with the title, "Trump takes down fake news."

The 28-second clip was reposted on Trump's official Twitter account, with the message: "#FraudNewsCNN #FNN."

Trump has branded the media "the opposition party" and "the enemy of the American people," and has taken aim at CNN, calling the network "fake news" and now "fraudnews."

White House plays down tweet

"I think that no one would perceive that as a threat," Homeland Security Adviser Tom Bossert said Sunday. "I hope they don't. But I do think that he's beaten up in a way on cable platforms that he has a right to respond to."

On Thursday, responding to one of Trump's earlier Twitter tirades, White House deputy spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters that the president "in no way, form or fashion has ever promoted or encouraged violence."

She added that Trump has a right to respond to critical coverage.

For the last several days, Trump has focused his attacks on Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough, co-hosts of MSNBC's "Morning Joe." Trump on Thursday tweeted that Brzezinski was "crazy," and said she had been "bleeding badly from a face-lift" when he saw her at his Florida estate late last year.

"The fake media tried to stop us from going to the White House, but I'm president and they're not," Trump told a crowd on Saturday in Washington.

'Trump is the biggest story right now'

jbh/cmk (AP, AFP, Reuters)