Monday 22 January 2018

Trump under fire for video ‘urging violent attack on journalists'

The video showed Mr Trump attacking a man with a CNN logo on his head
The video showed Mr Trump attacking a man with a CNN logo on his head

Nick Allen

CNN has accused US President Donald Trump of encouraging violence against journalists after he posted a video on social media showing himself body-slamming and repeatedly punching a man with the cable news network’s logo superimposed on his face.

In the latest escalation of his war with the US news media, the doctored archive footage showed Mr Trump during a choreographed appearance attacking a rival at a professional wrestling event in 2007.

“It is a sad day when the president of the United States encourages violence against reporters,” CNN said.

Carl Bernstein, the Watergate journalist who is now a CNN commentator, called the video “very disturbing”.

The controversy came as Mr Trump rejected growing appeals from senior Republicans to stop using Twitter to communicate.

They said his engagement on Twitter in increasingly vicious feuds with the news media and television presenters was demeaning the office of president and was overshadowing attempts in congress to push forward his legislative agenda, including health care and tax reform.

But Mr Trump vowed to continue his combative approach. He wrote on Twitter: “My use of social media is not presidential – it’s modern day presidential. The fake & fraudulent news media is working hard to convince Republicans and others I should not use social media.

“But remember, I won the 2016 election with interviews, speeches and social media. I had to beat Fake News, and did. We will continue to win!”

At a rally for military veterans in Washington, he added: “The fake media is trying to silence us but we will not let them. Because the people know the truth. The fake media tried to stop us from going to the White House. But I’m president and they’re not.”

In its response to the wrestling video, CNN highlighted that earlier this week Sarah Sanders, the White House deputy press secretary, said: “The president in no way, form or fashion has ever encouraged any form of violence.”

A CNN spokesman said in a statement: “Clearly, Sarah Sanders lied. 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. We will keep doing our jobs. He should start doing his.”

Mr Trump has been criticised by both Democrats and Republicans for attacking Mika Brzezinski, a television news presenter, claiming she was “bleeding badly from a facelift” and accusing her of being “dumb as a rock”. She responded by claiming that the president was “not well”.

The video tweeted by Mr Trump appeared to be a modified version of his 2007 appearance at World Wrestling Entertainment’s WrestleMania 23 promotion, in which Mr Trump “takes down” WWE chairman Vince McMahon.

In yesterday’s video, Mr McMahon’s head has been replaced with the CNN logo. After Mr Trump appears to beat up the CNN effigy, a logo, “FNN Fraud News Network” appears at the bottom of the screen in script similar to that of CNN.

Bill Kristol, the conservative commentator and editor-at-large of ‘The Weekly Standard’, compared Mr Trump’s actions to behaviour that caused the fall of the Roman Empire.

“The speed with which we’re recapitulating the decline and fall of Rome is impressive. What took Rome centuries we’re achieving in months,” Mr Kristol wrote in a tweet. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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