As federal authorities inspect a possible explosive device addressed to former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., President Donald Trump is blaming the media for fomenting political tribalism.
Trump twice read prepared statements Wednesday condemning a list of pipe bombs sent to some of his political foes, mostly current and former Democratic politicians and officials the president often sharply criticizes at campaign rallies and on Twitter.
The president, speaking at a White House bill-signing event, called the actions “despicable,” adding “acts or threats of political violence of any kind have no place in the United States of America.” He also said “in these times we have to unify, we have to come together.”
He made a similar statement at the start of a campaign rally in central Wisconsin — though he led with a celebratory remark about winning that state in the 2016 general election. By Thursday morning, the unity calls were gone — replaced by the president blaming the media for the country’s divisions.
Trump’s Tempered Tone Erased by Early Morning Tweet
“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,” he tweeted, calling on the news industry to “clean up its act, FAST!”
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. It has gotten so bad and hateful that it is beyond description. Mainstream Media must clean up its act, FAST!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 25, 2018
That tweet came about an hour before multiple media outlets reported an eighth bomb was found at a Manhattan office of actor Robert DeNiro. At an awards ceremony in June, the “Goodfellas” and “Raging Bull” star uttered these words during a rant about the president: “F— Trump.”
WTXF, a Philadelphia television station, posted a photo of the suspicious package mailed to Biden.
Democratic mega-donor George Soros, former President Barack Obama, 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, former Attorney General Eric Holder, former Democratic National Committee head Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, former CIA Director John Brennan and Rep. Maxine Waters of California have all been sent packages containing similar pipe bombs. Trump has harshly criticized those officials too.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders fired off her own tweet Wednesday criticizing CNN just hours after its New York headquarters was evacuated when the network received a package with a pipe bomb. She did not respond to an inquiry Wednesday night as her boss slammed Democrats in Wisconsin about why he went ahead with the rally rather than delivering calming words in a primetime address.
.@realDonaldTrump 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. https://t.co/Dlo3xwHyKi
— Sarah Sanders (@PressSec) October 25, 2018
Sanders on Thursday called it “absolutely ridiculous” for anyone to suggest Trump’s rhetoric might have led the bomber to act, saying he is no more responsible than Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders was when one of his supporters attacked a GOP baseball team practice outside Washington in 2017.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat, told CNN Thursday morning there is no reason to expect Trump will become a unifying figure. Rather, he said, the country must pull itself out of this bitterly tribal and angry period.
Trump has long criticized CNN, suggesting it is the leading “fake news” outlet. His rally crowds frequently chant “CNN sucks.”
What Year Is It? Trump’s Midterm Rallies Are Mostly About His 2020 Re-Election Bid