CNN received intense backlash on Wednesday and Thursday for slamming President Donald Trump’s unexpected visit to U.S. troops in Iraq and Germany — and accusing troops who asked the president to sign their “Make America Great Again” hats of violating military guidelines.
NBC News published a story on Wednesday — the day after Christmas — claiming that Trump became the “first president since 2002 not to visit troops at Christmastime.”
Other mainstream media outlets and liberal critics followed suit and piled on the president, accusing him of selfishly abandoning the troops.
But the stories were premature — clearly.
The Trump administration had been secretly planning an overseas trip for the president and first lady Melania Trump for Wednesday. The first couple ended up visiting troops at the Al Asad Air Base in Iraq and the Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany.
NBC and the other outlets ultimately needed to update their critical stories with editors’ notes admitting that Trump did visit the troops after all. But some outlets took it upon themselves to trash the Trumps for their visit anyway.
During his visits, Trump took selfies with the troops and even signed some of their “Make America Great Again” hats and “Trump 2020” embroidered patches.
The president, however, can do nothing right in the mainstream media’s estimation. After receiving intense criticism for not visiting troops before Christmas, the president received even more vitriol for visiting them after all — as some suggested he should have just stayed in the U.S.
It didn’t take long for CNN to publish an article titled, “Troops bringing Trump hats to sign may violate military rule.”
CNN warned that the troop autograph requests might violate Department of Defense rules that prohibit “active duty personnel” from engaging “in partisan political activities.”
Many social media users panned CNN’s report — and accused the outlet of always pushing to find and highlight the most negative details possible in its coverage of this president.
“Leave the soldiers alone! Can’t you find anything to bash Trump that does not involve potentially hurting our soldiers?” The Reagan Battalion’s Twitter account wrote.
Leave the soldiers alone! Can’t you find anything to bash Trump that does not involve potentially hurting our soldiers? https://t.co/N5thNOoz1c
— The Reagan Battalion (@ReaganBattalion) December 27, 2018
Fox News host Greg Gutfeld tweeted, “Our nation’s hall monitor strikes again.”
Our nation’s hall monitor strikes again. https://t.co/LEhJiEerwh
— GregGutfeld (@greggutfeld) December 27, 2018
Curtis Houck of the Media Research Center (MRC) wrote, “For real though, crap like @CNN bashing troops for having #MAGA hats in their personal possessions is literally how we got Trump.”
— Curtis Houck (@CurtisHouck) December 27, 2018
Some people noted that former President Barack Obama signed autographs for troops during his visits as commander-in-chief.
“Absolutely. I had @BarackObama and @JoeBiden at my base and my troops got autographs on all kinds of things, including campaign memorabilia. Never crossed my mind to question there actions because I didn’t need to, dammit,” retired Air Force Col. Rob Maness tweeted.
Absolutely. I had @BarackObama and @JoeBiden at my base and my troops got autographs on all kinds of things, including campaign memorabilia. Never crossed my mind to question there actions because I didn’t need to, dammit.
— Col. Rob Maness ret. (@RobManess) December 27, 2018
CNN also received backlash for comments by its reporters and on-air hosts that bashed Trump and his visit to the troops.
CNN host Don Lemon said on Wednesday on “CNN Tonight” that when he and his family “turned on CNN and we saw the president politicizing a Christmas message, it was like, we kept saying, ‘He’s like the Grinch.'”
CNN national security analyst and former Obama official Sam Vinograd agreed with Lemon, claiming that Trump “stole Christmas” from the troops with his visit and that he “should have stayed home.”
“And he made this about himself,” Vinograd added. “This trip was about President Trump trying ostensibly to score political points and to list his accomplishments instead of telling the troops that what they’re doing matters and clearly outlining a mission for them going forward.”
Contributor Brian Karem said Thursday on CNN’s “New Day” that Trump’s trip was “just another flash-over-substance type of thing” and was a “disingenuous” and “staged” event.
And CNN’s Jim Acosta wondered Wednesday on “The Situation Room” if Trump had turned the visit into “a campaign stop.”
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders slammed CNN Thursday on Twitter for its negative coverage, writing, “CNN will attack anyone who supports President Trump, including the brave men and women of our military who fight everyday to protect our freedom.”
CNN will attack anyone who supports President Trump, including the brave men and women of our military who fight everyday to protect our freedom https://t.co/x6VjuUJFdF
— Sarah Sanders (@PressSec) December 27, 2018
Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) said Wednesday on Fox News’ “The Story” that the mainstream media outlets who prematurely jumped on Trump for not visiting the troops would only end up helping Trump.
“I know President Trump gets angry at the media for their biased reporting, but in many ways they are his best ally because they always overshoot. They always exaggerate and they always put him in a position where he ends up on top” King said. “So again, this does show, though, the rush to judgment the media always has against President Trump.”
“And again, he planned on going anyway but this, again, outsmarted the media. That was not his main motive but that’s certainly the way it worked out,” King added.
Check out more in the video below: