White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Monday declined to name which news outlets or journalists, specifically, President Trump believes are the “enemy of the people,” downplaying the role his rhetoric may have played in the political violence of the last week.
“The president is not referencing all media, he’s talking about the growing amount of fake news in the country, and he’s calling that out,” Sanders said at a White House press briefing when asked about the president’s use of the term to describe the press.
She declined to call out specific reporters or media organizations, saying “those individuals probably know who they are.”
CNN’s Jim Acosta called on Sanders to “have the guts” to say which outlets are enemies of the American people if the president is willing to use the term broadly, as he did again earlier Monday.
“I think it’s irresponsible of a news organization like yours to blame responsibility of a pipe bomb that was not sent by the president, not just blame the president but blame members of his administration for those heinous acts,” she added.
Sanders defends Trump’s use of “enemy of the people” to describe news media, even after Trump supporter allegedly sent pipe bombs to CNN and other critics of the President.
Sanders appeared to be referring to a statement from CNN President Jeff Zucker condemning her and Trump’s attacks on the press after the network received an explosive device in the mail last week.
“The President, and especially the White House Press Secretary, should understand their words matter,” Zucker said last Wednesday. “Thus far, they have shown no comprehension of that.”
Critics have in recent days pointed to Trump’s inflammatory and repeated attacks on the media and Democrats after a man mailed pipe bombs to the network’s New York office, as well as to several prominent critics of the president.
Monday’s press briefing was held hours after CNN said another suspicious package addressed to the network was intercepted at an Atlanta post office.
In the aftermath of the bomb threats — and a shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue that left 11 dead — Trump has called for unity and decried the perpetrators’ actions.
He has also, however, continued to claim that the media is to blame for divisions in the country, and “CNN sucks” chants have persisted at Trump rallies.
Trump earlier Monday blamed the media for causing “great anger” in the country.
There is great anger in our Country caused in part by inaccurate, and even fraudulent, reporting of the news. 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!
“Again, the very first action the president did was condemn these heinous acts. The very first thing that the media did was condemn the president,” she added.
CNN responded to Sanders’s comments in a tweet shortly after her press conference:
GOP leaders have pushed back any suggestion that Trump’s rhetoric may have motivated either Cesar Sayoc Jr. or Robert Bowers, the two men accused of carrying out the pipe bombs and the synagogue shooting, respectively.
“The only person responsible for carrying out either of these heinous acts were the individuals who carried them out,” Sanders said.
BY BRETT SAMUELS – 10/29/18