Politics

Reacting to Suspect’s Arrest, Mainstream Media Rip into Trump

Feds caught Cesar Sayoc after a diligent and remarkable effort — but CNN's Dana Bash and others can do nothing but find fault and point fingers

Image Credit: Screenshot, CSPAN & Shutterstock & Screenshot, CNN

President Donald Trump’s condemnation on Friday of the suspect arrested in connection with a string of suspicious packages containing explosive devices sent to prominent Democrats and CNN’s New York bureau was not enough to placate some CNN employees and other mainstream media members.

“There is teleprompter Trump, and there’s Twitter Trump. And that was teleprompter Trump — something that was written very carefully, very well by his aides, and presumably him, too, doing what he should do … as president, talking about these despicable acts, that violence is never OK,” CNN’s Dana Bash said on “Inside Politics.”

“The problem is what he didn’t say, either in that teleprompter speech or on Twitter, which is ‘You know what? We all need to lower the rhetoric. Because I, as president, have a big impact on people in what I say, just as the media has an impact, just as everybody else has an impact, but particularly the man with the loudest megaphone and the most Twitter followers in politics,'” Bash (shown above right) continued.

“That was a big omission,” Bash lamented, adding, “he’s gone the other way on Twitter, which is to continue to stoke animosity towards the media.”

She seems to be intentionally omitting the president’s pointed remarks at the White House on Friday: “We must never allow political violence to take root in America … The bottom line is that Americans must unify. And we must show the world that we are united together in peace, and love, and harmony as fellow American citizens. There is no country like our country. Every day we are showing the world just how truly great we are.”

On Friday, after a remarkable effort, federal authorities arrested a Florida man named Cesar Sayoc, 56, in connection with the packages.

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Sayoc has an extensive criminal history dating back to 1991 and reportedly is a registered Republican who supports Trump and has attended his rallies. He issued a previous bomb threat in 2002 against the Florida Power & Light Co. over an electric bill, Fox News reported.

Sayoc’s white van, which authorities seized, sported a myriad of stickers depicting Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, along with a “CNN Sucks” sticker and others with targets plastered on political figures, including 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

Clinton, former Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, former Vice President Joe Biden, former Attorney General Eric Holder, former CIA Director John Brennan, Reps. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), liberal activist billionaire George Soros, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), actor Robert De Niro, and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper were all sent suspicious packages.

The package addressed to Brennan was sent to the Time Warner Center in Manhattan, which prompted CNN’s New York bureau, housed within the building, to evacuate on Tuesday.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said during a press conference Friday that Sayoc was slapped with five federal charges and could face up to 58 years’ jail.

Trump referred to the arrest and thanked law enforcement officials Friday during a previously scheduled White House event with a group of young, conservative black leaders.

“I am committed to doing everything in my power as president to stop [political violence]. And to stop it now,” Trump told the group during his remarks.

But many mainstream media members remained dissatisfied with Trump and his calls for unity, and the #MAGABomber hashtag trended on Twitter throughout the afternoon, referring to Trump’s “Make America Great Again (MAGA)” campaign slogan.

“You can get whiplash, excuse me, trying to follow the president at this time of a national crisis,” CNN’s “Inside Politics” anchor John King declared.

“Clearly, the suspect’s van has pictures of the president, has pictures of the vice president, has a derogatory — you can see it right there, so I’ll say it — ‘CNN sucks’ … That does not make the president responsible for this, but he has bristled at the suggestion that people are holding him responsible for this.”

“What people have asked of the president, I think, is a more calming, unifying presence,” added King. “He has done that at times quite well. At other times he launches into attacks on this network, on the media writ large and says ‘Bomb stuff.'”

King was referring to a tweet Trump issued before the arrest Friday. He wrote, “Republicans are doing so well in early voting, and at the polls, and now this ‘Bomb’ stuff happens and the momentum greatly slows — news not talking politics. Very unfortunate, what is going on. Republicans, go out and vote!”

CNN’s M.J. Lee said, “Dana, you were talking about the difference between Twitter Trump and teleprompter Trump. Twitter, again, is one way where we get the most unfiltered insight into what he is thinking. And it is clear from the tweet that he sent out this morning using the quotation marks … that he for whatever reason doesn’t believe this is as serious as everyone else believes.”

“I think if everyone around this table is able to acknowledge that this is a very serious issue and serious conduct, the president certainly should be able to acknowledge that as well,” Lee added.

“It’s just fascinating that the president said in his remarks that he is committed to doing everything in his power to stop the political violence. That starts with his tweets. That starts with his public remarks,” Lee continued. “And he is currently, clearly, not doing that.”

Related: Trump Vows ‘Swift and Certain Justice’ for Bomb Suspect

NBC News’ Geoff Bennett (above left) said on MSNBC, “The president makes clear that he accepts no responsibility for contributing to the current political … discourse, the atmosphere in which a man sent a series of pipe bombs to the president’s political adversaries, and an entire news organization.”

“Clearly he is viewing this or has viewed it up until this point through a political lens. So we will have to see if anything he says about the fact that the man now taken into custody and was arrested had what appears to be Trump-friendly and Trump-supportive decals on the van,” Bennett added.

Bennett insisted that “the weight of the presidency, the nation in peril, compels the president to hew to conventional standards, conventional norms,” and that Trump “cannot really seem to comply.”

CNN political commentator Keith Boykin tweeted, “The #MAGABomber Cesar Sayoc is literally wearing a #MAGA hat at a Trump rally, and Trump thinks he has nothing to do with the toxic culture that empowered this guy.”

CNN’s Jim Sciutto took issue with Trump’s remarks, tweeting, “Trump identifies the targets as ‘high-profile individuals and a media organization.’ Those individuals include two former presidents, a former VP, two sitting senators and a congresswoman, and two former intelligence agency heads. The media organization is CNN.”

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