President Donald Trump ratcheted up his attacks on the mainstream U.S. news media Sunday, tweeting a fake wrestling video showing him tackling and beating up an avatar labeled as CNN, the television news network he now calls Fraud News Network.
Trump posted the video on his Twitter account a day after he described his use of social media as “modern day presidential,” a way to communicate with millions of his followers by bypassing traditional U.S. media outlets.
Trump has railed against major newspapers and television networks for their coverage of his five-month-old presidency. But he has aimed increasing vitriol in recent days against CNN, especially after the network forced the resignations of three journalists who wrote and edited a retracted story that linked one of his supporters to the burgeoning investigation of Trump campaign aides and Russian interests in last year’s presidential campaign.
The video is from a 2007 professional Wrestlemania event, where Trump performed outside the wrestling ring in a fake match. In Sunday’s version, the CNN logo is superimposed on the head of Trump’s opponent as Trump, in a business suit, pounds away in fake punches with his fists before walking away triumphantly.
White House homeland security adviser Tom Bossert, in an interview on ABC, rejected the idea that someone might perceive Trump’s video as a physical threat against journalists.
“No one would perceive that as a threat; I hope they don’t,” Bossert said.
CNN said in a statement, “It is a sad day when the president of the United States encourages violence against reporters. 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 behavior far below the dignity of his office. WE will keep doing our jobs. He should start doing his.”
Trump’s latest broadside against CNN came after days of attacks on two anchors on the Morning Joe political news talk show, Mika Brzezinski and her fiance, Joe Scarborough.
In his initial salvo, Trump said, “I heard poorly rated @MorningJoe speaks badly of me (don’t watch anymore). Then how come low I.Q. Crazy Mika, along with Psycho Joe, came to Mar-a-Lago 3 nights in a row around New Year’s Eve, and insisted on joining me. She was bleeding badly from a face-lift. I said no!”
Trump’s tweet maligning the intellect and appearance of Brzezinski drew widespread condemnation from Republicans and Democrats alike, but the White House defended his comments.
“I don’t think it’s a surprise he fights fire with fire,” Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said. “He’s not going to sit back and be attacked by the liberal media, Hollywood elites and when they hit him, he’s going to hit back.”