The apple doesn’t fall far from the tweet.
Late Thursday, as a government shutdown trudged toward its 20th day, Donald Trump Jr. retweeted a doctored video depicting CNN reporter Jim Acosta getting run over by a golf cart.
The visual insult (and non sequitur) came hours after Acosta reported that there was nothing resembling a migrant crisis that would justify President Trump declaring a national emergency to build a border wall, as the administration is reportedly preparing to do — at least not from where Acosta was standing, in McAllen, Tex.
“As a matter of fact, it’s pretty tranquil down here,” Acosta said, after he walked along a border fence there and patted a row of steel slats. In another video, the CNN reporter said residents there felt “quite safe,” despite migrants occasionally coming through a portion of the border marked with a chain-link fence.
This prompted the president, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders and Trump Jr. to pile on Acosta, saying that he proved, in their estimation, that “WALLS WORK.”
It escalated from there, with Trump Jr. and Acosta trading a series of online jabs that included the diminutive nickname “Jimbo” and at least two deployments of the dismissive hashtag #ByeBye, as might be expected of the president’s eldest son and CNN’s chief White House correspondent in 2019.
Having trouble following? No matter: The spat ended with a meme — specifically, with Trump Jr. retweeting someone named Arthur Schwartz, who wrote, “Spotted: Jim Acosta playing golf earlier today.”
The tweet included an altered video of a golfer with “CNN” superimposed on his head and an image of “Trump” driving a golf cart with what looks like a “Hillary for Prison” bumper sticker affixed to it. As the golfer readies to take a swing, “Trump” plows the vehicle into him and knocks him down.
“Go home to mommy!” Trump’s voice can be heard saying in the video, apparently borrowing from an audio clip in which Trump mocked a protester at one of his 2016 campaign rallies. “Bye! Go home to mommy!”
If that seems familiar, it may be because Trump tweeted out a similar image more than a year ago, of a cartoon train running over a CNN reporter — just days after a self-professed neo-Nazi struck and killed Heather Heyer with his car following a violent “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville.
That tweet came weeks after lawmakers had criticized Trump for posting a doctored video clip that showed him body-slamming and punching a man with “CNN” superimposed on his head (July 2017). It was, however, before Trump shared a GIF of himself hitting Hillary Clinton in the back with a golf ball (September 2017) and before he retweeted an image depicting “CNN” squashed beneath his shoe (Christmas Eve, 2017).
But for all the animosity Trump shows toward CNN, it is Acosta whom the president and his supporters seem to target the most. Trump has singled out Acosta at news conferences, calling him a “rude, terrible person” and an “enemy of the people.”
In November, the White House took the unprecedented step of suspending Acosta’s press credentials, hours after Trump had taken issue with questions Acosta asked at a news conference. White House officials also shared doctored video to try to bolster their claims that Acosta had used physical force on a female aide. CNN sued and, about two weeks later, a federal judge ordered the White House to temporarily reinstate Acosta’s press credentials.
For his part, Donald Trump Jr. has increasingly become one the most vocal supporters of his father’s presidency, campaigning for candidates on his behalf and publicly defending Trump’s policies — even though Trump Jr. once claimed he was so busy running the family business that he had nearly “zero contact” with his father.
Online, Trump Jr. has emulated his father’s approach to social media, most charitably described as controversial. Earlier this week, Trump Jr. compared the border wall to enclosures at a zoo in an Instagram post that was later deleted. He was slammed for insinuating that immigrants were like zoo animals. A spokesman for Trump Jr. told the Hill that it was a “phony controversy” and that the comparison was “strictly about illustrating the danger and violence that comes with unsecured borders.”