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Opinion As CNN evacuates, ‘preprogrammed’ Trump campaign email blasts network

It should be no surprise that homemade bombs have been sent to high-profile officials, a news network and a philanthropist, opinion writer Paul Waldman says. (Video: Gillian Brockell/The Washington Post)
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To the great detriment of the United States, media attacks from President Trump and his associates have become too commonplace to track, let alone to rebut. The campaign to poison the reporting of news organizations so as to protect the president from criticism proceeds on cable-news panels, on social media in the halls of Congress — wherever you find people out to minimize Trump’s unfitness for office.

Occasionally an attack distinguishes itself from the lumpenmasse, as was the case Wednesday. At about noon, a fundraising appeal from Lara Trump, senior adviser to Donald J. Trump for President, Inc., was transmitted via email:

In case the words aren’t clear, here’s the pitch from the Make America Great Again Committee (“a joint fundraising committee authorized by and composed of Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. and the Republican National Committee“):

Here’s what CNN said. What do you say?
“It felt like we weren’t in America anymore…” That’s what CNN said about being at a Trump rally in Florida… I have some breaking news for CNN… That is the real America that exists outside of the liberal bubble.
That’s what CNN said about being at a Trump rally in Florida…
I have some breaking news for CNN… That is the real America that exists outside of the liberal bubble.
It’s time for us to give the media another wake-up call from the American people.

The letter leverages comments from CNN’s Jim Acosta over the summer, after he had attended a Trump rally. Trump supporters at the event mistreated him:

Looking back at the verbal abuse, Acosta said, “I mean, honestly, it felt like we weren’t in America anymore. I don’t know how to put it any more plainly than that. Americans should not be treating their fellow Americans in this way. But unfortunately, what we’ve seen—and this has been building for some time since the campaign—I’ve been talking about this as an issue since the campaign.”

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Correspondent attends Trump rally. Correspondent is heckled by attendees. Correspondent captures video of the abuse. You might suppose that the Trump campaign would be embarrassed about such a situation. Not so. It fundraises off such a situation.

Here’s the thing about today’s email: It landed just under two hours after CNN evacuated its New York offices because of a suspicious package. Potential explosive devices were also intended for the Clintons, the Obamas, Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters (Calif.) and others. Hosts Poppy Harlow and Jim Sciutto were on air just after 10 a.m. when a fire alarm started chirping in their midst. Soon they were headed to the stairways and into the streets, where they covered police activity stemming from the device.

So why would a Trump reelection committee be issuing a media “wake-up” call just as a prominent media organization is scrambling in an emergency? Brad Parscale, the 2020 campaign manager for Trump, issued this statement:

So Parscale is noting that the offending missive “unfortunately was a preprogrammed, automated message…” Apparently, the Trump campaign people didn’t catch it before it landed. To judge from its tone, Parscale’s statement would appear to be an attempt to mitigate blame: This particular blast wasn’t planned for this moment. It was in the queue already. Sorry about that.

Those circumstances don’t diminish the wrongdoing at work here; they exacerbate it. What Parscale is saying here is that media attacks are … uh, preprogrammed and automated. No matter how circumstances may change, the Trump people try their best to undermine the public’s trust in the U.S. media. As Trump himself reportedly told Lesley Stahl of “60 Minutes”: “I do it to discredit you all and demean you all so when you write negative stories about me, no one will believe it.”

To accomplish this goal, the attacks must come in preprogrammed, automated fashion. They work better that way. They help you “win.”