Donald Trump renews attack on media with video showing him 'beating up CNN'

The President appears to be promoting violence 

Alexandra Wilts
Washington DC
Sunday 02 July 2017 14:27 BST
Trump renews attack on media with video showing him 'beating up CNN'

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In his latest attack against CNN – which he frequently berates as “fake news” – Donald Trump has posted a video of himself body slamming the news network.

Mr Trump, currently on holiday at his Bedminster golf resort in New Jersey, tweeted an old video of himself performing at a WWE professional wrestling match, but with his opponent’s face covered with a CNN logo.

“#FraudNewsCNN” Mr Trump wrote.

The edited video the President posted showed up on Reddit, a social media message board, a few days ago. The original clip appears to be from when Mr Trump fought WWE Chairman Vince McMahon as part of the company’s “Battle of the Billionaires”.

Mr Trump has long been associated with WWE and was inducted into the company's Hall of Fame in 2013.

In response to Mr Trump’s tweet, CNN posted a quote from Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders saying last week that “the President in no way, form or fashion has ever promoted or encouraged violence. If anything, quite the contrary.”

“It is a sad day when the President of the United States encourages violence against reporters,” the network said in an official statement. “Clearly, Sarah Huckabee Sanders lied when she said the President had never done so. Instead of preparing for his overseas trip, his first meeting with Vladimir Putin, dealing with North Korea and working on his health care bill, he is instead involved in juvenile behaviour far below the dignity of his office. We will keep doing our jobs. He should start doing his.”

Meanwhile, Homeland Security Adviser Thomas Bossert said he is proud of Mr Trump for developing a social media platform “where he can talk directly to the American people”.

“No one would perceive that as a threat. I hope they don’t,” Mr Bossert told broadcaster ABC, referring to the tweet. “I do think he’s being beaten up in a way on cable platforms that he has a right to respond to.”

Mr Bossert said he does not think Mr Trump’s post is sending a message to beat up members of the media.

But the tension between journalists and politicians they cover appears to be intensifying. In May, while covering Montana’s at-large congressional district special election, The Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs was reportedly body-slammed by Republican candidate Greg Gianforte.

Mr Gianforte, who was subsequently elected, pleaded guilty in court on a charge of misdemeanor assault.

Mr Trump’s beef with CNN appeared to escalate last week after the network retracted a story that said the Senate was investigating connections between one of his transition aides and the head of a Russian bank. Congressional and federal investigators are currently probing whether Trump campaign advisers colluded with the Russian government to influence the 2016 presidential election.

Three reporters and editors resigned over the report, which CNN said had not been vetted properly. The White House has continued to condemn the story, with Mr Trump even interrupting a speech he was giving about energy last week to say CNN was “fake news”.

The President has frequently criticised media outlets that he views to have published unfavourable work about him or his administration.

Also last week, about an hour after MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski accused him of “lying every day”, “destroying the country” and having “teensy” hands, Mr Trump claimed on Twitter that Ms Brzezinski was “bleeding badly from a face-lift” when he saw her last year at his Mar-a-Lago resort, sparking a feud.

Observers have questioned Mr Trump's use of social media to attack news outlets, saying that it distracts from his legislative agenda and shows that he lacks impulse control.

But Mr Trump continues to defend his behaviour, appearing to believe that it is the best way for his voters to receive his unfiltered messages.

“The FAKE & FRAUDULENT NEWS MEDIA is working hard to convince Republicans and others I should not use social media – but remember, I won...” he tweeted on Saturday, adding on Sunday morning, “My use of social media is not Presidential – it’s MODERN DAY PRESIDENTIAL. Make America Great Again!”

Republican Senator Ben Sasse said he is concerned about Mr Trump’s attacks on the media because of the dangers of “weaponising distrust”, which could harm the freedoms that define a democracy.

“There’s an important distinction to draw between bad stories or crappy coverage and the right that citizens have to argue about that and complain about that and trying to weaponise distrust,” Mr Sasse said in an interview with CNN. “The First Amendment is the beating heart of the American experiment, and you don’t get to separate the freedoms that are in there.”

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