Politics

Sanders Rebukes CNN’s Zucker for Choosing ‘to Attack and Divide’

White House press secretary says it is 'absolutely ridiculous' to pin blame for bomb threats on POTUS for his media criticism

Image Credit: Shutterstock & TASOS KATOPODIS/AFP/Getty Images

CNN President Jeff Zucker (pictured above left) “chose to attack and divide” Americans by partially blaming President Donald Trump’s rhetoric for suspicious packages containing crude explosive devices sent to CNN’s New York bureau and prominent Democrats, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders (above right) said late Wednesday.

[email protected] asked Americans ‘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 USA’ Yet you chose to attack and divide. America should unite against all political violence,” Sanders tweeted in response to Zucker’s statement.

Former Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, former Vice President Joe Biden, 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, former Attorney General Eric Holder, former CIA Director John Brennan, and other prominent Democrats reportedly were sent suspicious packages.

The package addressed to the former CIA chief was sent to the Time Warner Center in Manhattan, which prompted CNN’s New York bureau, housed within the building, to be evacuated.

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Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), who fielded bipartisan backlash this summer for her repeated calls to harass Trump administration officials, was also sent a suspicious package. She insisted in a statement, however, that “I unequivocally condemn any and all acts of violence and terror.”

In response to the package sent to CNN, Zucker issued a statement in which he condemned Trump’s rhetoric and accused both the president and Sanders of being careless with their media criticisms.

“There is a total and complete lack of understanding at the White House about the seriousness of their continued attacks on the media,” Zucker said. “The president, and especially the White House press secretary, should understand their words matter. Thus far, they have shown no comprehension of that.”

But Trump rebuked mainstream media outlets on Twitter Thursday and urged them to adhere to a higher standard of reporting in such a divisive political climate.

“A very big part of the Anger we see today in our society is caused by the purposely false and inaccurate reporting of the Mainstream Media that I refer to as Fake News. It has gotten so bad and hateful that it is beyond description. Mainstream Media must clean up its act, FAST!” Trump tweeted.

Sanders reinforced Trump’s statement Thursday during an interview on Fox News’ “Fox & Friends,” saying, “Certainly the media has a role to play in this process. When 90 percent of the coverage about this president is negative, despite the historic successes, when the ideas are perpetuated and continued of negativity, that is not helpful for the American discourse, and certainly the president is calling on everyone to come together.”

“And if you have a problem with one another, let’s voice that but let’s do so peacefully and let’s do that at the ballot box,” Sanders added.

Sanders rejected any implications that Trump shared blame for the suspicious packages, telling reporters Thursday that such a notion is “absolutely ridiculous.”

“Difference between comments made and actions taken,” Sanders said. “The president is certainly not responsible for sending suspicious packages to someone, no more than Bernie Sanders was responsible for a supporter of his shooting up a Republican baseball field practice last year.”

Sanders was referring to the June 2017 congressional baseball shooting, targeting Republicans. The shooter, a liberal activist who supported Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), critically shot and wounded House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.).

When CNN reporter Abby Phillips asked Sanders about the president’s rhetoric and why he called protesters against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh “evil,” she replied, “It’s a word that people have used on your network a number of times, not only to describe the president but people who work in this administration.”

“Yesterday, the very first thing that the president did was come out and condemn the violence. The very first thing your network did was come out and accuse the president of being responsible for it. That is not okay. The first thing should have been to condemn the violence,” Sanders added.

But many CNN reporters and pundits lashed out at Trump Wednesday and Thursday as they reacted to the bomb threats and pinned part of the blame on the president. Some also implied that Trump should not criticize the media for their reporting biases or Democrats because of the threats.

Related: Eight Desperate Media Attempts to Tie Trump to the ‘Suspicious Packages’ Sent to CNN, Dems

“As I said last night on @AC360, Trump has unleashed dogs of hatred — and subsequent snarling and barking — in such a way that threats of violence were inevitable. The president may not be directly responsible for yesterday, but he creates the climate of hatred that led us here,” CNN senior political analyst David Gergen tweeted.

Chief CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta tweeted, “Trump talked about the bombs sent to former public officials at his rally in Wisconsin. But once again he didn’t mention CNN. On top of all that, he criticized the ‘media’ for coverage he doesn’t like. And, of course, he took no responsibility for his own rhetoric.”

CNN senior campaign editor Kyle Blaine tweeted ahead of a Trump rally Wednesday, “If Trump takes the same approach he has been in his rally speech tonight — ‘Democrats are a big risk to the American family’ he said Monday in Houston — it will certainly feel tonally odd, to say the very least, given the events of today.”

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“Trump just said political leaders ‘must stop treating political opponents as being morally defective.’ Two wks ago, he blamed the Kavanaugh confirmation on ‘people that are evil.’ He has dubbed a Dem Rep. ‘Crazy Maxine Waters.’ He has called news media ‘enemy of the people.’ And more,” CNN White House reporter Jeremy Diamond tweeted.

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