NEW YORK – President Trump is wrestling with challenges both at home and abroad — but on Twitter he’s wrestling with CNN.
On Sunday morning the president’s personal Twitter account, which has 33 million followers, posted a 28-second video of a WWE broadcast. The video was edited to show Trump beating up a man with a CNN logo on his face.
A short time later, the official @POTUS Twitter account retweeted Trump’s tweet to its 19 million followers.
Before becoming president, Trump sometimes appeared at WWE matches and occasionally joined in the fighting. So it was relatively easy for someone to tweak the old video and superimpose the CNN logo onto the other fighter’s face.
Who edited the anti-CNN video? There was no immediate answer, but a version of the video appeared on a pro-Trump Reddit thread several days ago.
The CNN public relations department responded to the president with a tweet that quoted his own deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
Three days ago Sanders said: “The President in no way form or fashion has ever promoted or encouraged violence. If anything, quite the contrary.”
In a statement, CNN called it a “sad day when the President of the United States encourages violence against reporters.”
“Clearly, Sarah Huckabee Sanders lied when she said the President had never done so,” CNN’s statement continued. “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.”
Sunday’s video was part of an escalating anti-media campaign by the president.
CNN, The New York Times, The Washington Post have been some of the targets.
On Saturday Trump tweeted that he wants to rebrand “Fake News CNN” as “Fraud News CNN.”
Sunday’s video reiterated that message with a Photoshopped “FNN” logo.
The video was immediately scrutinized on social media and television.
Some commentators, especially those inclined to support Trump, laughed at the video and savored the president’s latest media critique.
Others derided the video as juvenile and unbecoming of the U.S. president.
Some media figures expressed real concern that the video could encourage violence against journalists.
“It’s not just anti-CNN. It’s anti-freedom of the press,” CNN political analyst Carl Bernstein said on “Reliable Sources” on Sunday. “It’s very disturbing. There’s nothing lighthearted about it whatsoever.”
Bernstein, who with Bob Woodward broke the Watergate story as a reporter for the Washington Post in the 1970s, noted that Trump praised campaign coverage that was critical of Hillary Clinton.
“When it suits him, it’s great news,” Bernstein said. “When it doesn’t, it’s fake news.”
On ABC’s “This Week,” Ana Navarro called Trump’s tweet “an incitement to violence. He is going to get someone killed in the media.” Navarro, a Republican who is fiercely critical of the president, is a commentator on both CNN and ABC.
Earlier on ABC, anchor Martha Raddatz asked Homeland Security Adviser Thomas Bossert to react to the video.
“No one would perceive that as a threat. I hope they don’t,” he said.
Others said the media was making too much of the latest tweet.
Ben Ferguson, a conservative talk show host and CNN commentator, said he thought Trump’s WWE tweet was one of the more “humorous moments” of the president’s feud with the media.
“I don’t think it incites violence,” Ferguson said on “Reliable Sources.” “He’s trying to make it abundantly clear that there are people in the media who have made it their personal mission and their job to destroy this president.”
By Brian Stelter, CNNMoney