CNN president tells Trump 'words matter' after suspected mail bomb found

CNN, often accused by President Trump of peddling “fake news,” wasn’t faking its outrage Wednesday over what appeared to be an attempted pipe bomb attack on the network.

Hours after what the Secret Service described as “a potentially explosive package” was recovered at CNN’s New York offices, similar to the ones sent to Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and George Soros, the head of the network released a statement that pointed the finger at President Trump and his administration.

“There is a total and complete lack of understanding at the White House about the seriousness of their continued attacks on the media,” CNN president Jeff Zucker said in a statement released Wednesday afternoon. “The President, and especially the White House Press Secretary should understand their words matter. Thus far, they have shown no comprehension of that.”

The package sent to CNN was found in the mailroom of the Time Warner Center in New York City, and it triggered an evacuation of the building that lasted several hours. It was addressed to former CIA Director John Brennan, a commentator on MSNBC — not CNN — who is frequently critical of Trump.

President Trump speaks at the White House on Oct. 24, 2018, in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)
President Trump speaks at the White House on Oct. 24, 2018, in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

No one was injured by the devices.

Trump, who often sums up CNN’s coverage of his administration as “fake news,” addressed the discovery of the string of suspicious packages during a White House event Wednesday on opioid addiction.

“The safety of the American people is my highest and absolute priority,” the president said. “In these times, we have to unify. We have to come together and send one very clear, strong unmistakable message: that acts or threats of political violence of any kind have no place in the United States of America.”

The chant “CNN sucks!” has become a staple of Trump’s campaign rallies, perhaps second only to the “Lock her up!” chant directed at his former presidential rival, Hillary Clinton, whose home with former President Bill Clinton also received a suspicious package Wednesday.

Hatred of CNN has become a rallying cry for many of the president’s supporters. Earlier in the day, Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale apologized for a fundraising email attacking the media that went out two hours after the news broke of the suspicious packages. Sent under Lara Trump’s name, the email said “it’s time for us to give the media another wake-up call from the American people.”

“The email went out today unfortunately was a pre-programmed, automated message that was not caught before the news broke,” Parscale said in his statement. “We apologize for this. We in no way condone violence against anyone who works for CNN, or anywhere else.”

In the wake of an (apparently nonpolitical) shooting that killed five employees of the Annapolis, Md., Capital Gazette in June, CNN anchor Jim Acosta has repeatedly clashed with White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, demanding that she renounce the president’s characterization of the press as the “enemy of the people.”

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, also frequent Trump targets, issued a joint statement Wednesday decrying the president’s rhetoric, including his praise last week of a Montana congressman who assaulted a reporter during his campaign last year.

“Time and again, the President has condoned physical violence and divided Americans with his words and his actions: expressing support for the Congressman who body-slammed a reporter, the neo-Nazis who killed a young woman in Charlottesville, his supporters at rallies who get violent with protestors, dictators around the world who murder their own citizens, and referring to the press as the enemy of the people,” the Democrats wrote.


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