President Donald Trump stepped up his feud with the media on Sunday, climaxing with a video tweet in which he is seen tackling and repeatedly striking a man with a CNN logo super-imposed in place of his head, followed by a logo saying “Fraud News Network.”
The video appeared to be a modified version of a 2007 appearance by Trump at World Wrestling Entertainment’s WrestleMania 23 promotion, in which Trump “takes down” WWE Chairman Vince McMahon. In Sunday’s video, McMahon’s head has been replaced with the CNN logo.
After Trump appears to beat on the CNN effigy, a logo, “FNN Fraud News Network” appears at the bottom of the screen in script similar to that of CNN.
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As a presidential candidate and as commander-in-chief, Trump has repeatedly made known his disdain for the media, calling it “the enemy of the American people” and frequently referring to mainstream news organisations as “failing” or “fake news.” He has been particularly scathing of CNN.
The video takes his criticism to a new level and drew criticism from CNN and on social media.
CNN responded calling Trump’s tweet ‘juvenile’, unexpected of an American leader.
“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,” CNN said.
“It is a sad day when the President of the United States encourages violence against reporters,” CNN said in a statement.
Trump appointed McMahon’s wife, Linda McMahon, as the head of the Small Business Administration, a Cabinet-level agency. She was active in the management of WWE for many years.
Trump leaves later this week for a trip to Poland and Germany, where he will attend a meeting of Group of 20 leaders including the Russian president.
White House homeland security and counterterrorism adviser Thomas Bossert said the tweet was not a threat.
“I think that no one would perceive that as a threat. I hope they don’t,” Bossert said on the ABC program “This Week.”
“But I do think that he’s beaten up in a way on cable platforms that he has a right to respond to,” Bossert said.
The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, a group that advocates for journalists’ rights, condemned the president’s tweet and said it “glorified physical violence against members of the press.”
Trump’s Sunday tweet followed his scathing and highly personal Twitter attack on two MSNBC anchors last week, which drew condemnation from Republicans, including Speaker of the House of Representatives Paul Ryan, and Democrats alike.
Trump, who is spending a long weekend at his property in Bedminster, New Jersey, took to Twitter on Saturday to call the media “fake” and “fraudulent.”
At an event honouring veterans at the Kennedy Centre in Washington on Saturday evening, he told the crowd that the media had tried to stop him from coming to the White House.
“But I’m president, and they’re not,” he said.