“There is great anger in our Country caused in part by inaccurate, and even fraudulent, reporting of the news,” Trump wrote. “The Fake News Media, the true Enemy of the People, must stop the open & obvious hostility & report the news accurately & fairly. That will do much to put out the flame . . . of Anger and Outrage and we will then be able to bring all sides together in Peace and Harmony. Fake News Must End!”
Despite his calls for unity, Trump has continued to target his adversaries on Twitter and in public comments after pipe bombs were sent to prominent Democrats, and a gunman massacred Jewish worshipers Saturday at a Pittsburgh synagogue.
Trump’s Monday morning tweets prompted some fresh rebukes, including from Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.).
“This is, for all practical purposes, a call for more violence against the press,” Murphy wrote on Twitter. “My god . . . what is happening???”
Others criticizing the remarks included David Lapan, a retired Marine colonel who was press secretary at the Department of Homeland Security while it was led by John F. Kelly, now Trump’s chief of staff.
“Over 30+ years as a U.S. Marine, I defended our country against its true enemies,” Lapan wrote on Twitter. “In 20+ years as a USMC, Pentagon and DHS spokesman, I dealt w/ the news media nearly every day. I know quite a bit about the press and know this — they are NOT the enemy of the American people.”
Asked about Trump’s comments at a testy media briefing Monday, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said the president has forcefully condemned violence, and she accused the media of blaming Trump for the pipe bombs and synagogue shooting.
“The very first action the president did was condemn these heinous acts,” she said. “The very first thing that the media did was condemn the president.”
Sanders said Trump was no more to blame for the pipe bombs than Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) when a supporter of his shot at members of Congress practicing for a baseball game last year.
She later declined a request from CNN’s Jim Acosta to name media organizations that Trump considers “enemies of the people.”
“I’m not going to walk through a list but I think those individuals know who they are,” Sanders said, later asserting that the vast majority of news coverage about Trump is negative and that the media needs to do a better job of covering Trump’s accomplishments.
In a separate tweet Sunday night, Trump said the media was “doing everything in their power to blame Republicans, Conservatives and me for the division and hatred that has been going on for so long in our Country.”
“Actually, it is their Fake & Dishonest reporting which is causing problems far greater than they understand!” Trump added.
During an appearance on CNN on Monday morning before Trump’s latest tweets, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway downplayed Trump’s continued targeting of rivals.
“The president is trying to heal the country,” she said.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), meanwhile, said Monday that both sides of the aisle are to be blamed for the heightened political rhetoric in the country, which he called “terrible.”
“We witnessed, all of us, two horrendous shootings this weekend. One in a synagogue in Pittsburgh and one in a Kroger’s store in Louisville,” McConnell said, referring to the shooting of two African Americans by a white gunman.
“If these aren’t definitions of hate crimes, I don’t know what a hate crime is,” McConnell said while speaking to the Federalist Society in Frankfort, Ky.