CNN has issued a sharp rebuke of Donald Trump after the president tweeted an edited video clip of him body slamming and punching a man with the network's logo superimposed over his head. In a statement issued Sunday, CNN accused Trump of encouraging violence against reporters and likened his tweet to "juvenile behavior far below the dignity" of the office of president.
"It is a sad day when the President of the United States encourages violence against reporters," a statement from a CNN spokesperson said. "Clearly, Sarah Huckabee Sanders lied when she said the President had never done so."
The cable news network went on to suggest the president begin doing the job he was elected to do while expressing its own unwavering commitment to continue reporting. "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," the statement read. "We will keep doing our jobs. He should start doing his."
Initially CNN's communications team had responded to the president's tweet by quoting a claim deputy White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders had made during her June 29 press briefing. "The President in no way form or fashion has ever promoted or encouraged violence," Sanders said. "If anything, quite the contrary."
Homeland Security Adviser Thomas Bossert echoed a message similar to Sanders' while defending Trump's latest tweet Sunday on ABC's This Week. "I think that no one would perceive that as a threat," Bossert said of Trump's tweet. "I hope they don't." Bossert also said he was "pretty proud of the president for developing a Twitter and a social media platform where he can talk directly to the American people."
While Trump has often lashed out at CNN for being what he calls "fake news," his attacks on the cable news network escalated sharply after CNN retracted a story last week regarding not-adequately-backed claims Trump campaign adviser Anthony Scaramucci was being investigated as part of the Senate Intelligence Committee's Russia probe. Three CNN employees resigned following the story's retraction.
On Saturday, Trump said he was "extremely pleased to see that CNN has finally been exposed as #FakeNews and garbage journalism" in a tweet posted to his official Twitter account. Early the following day, the president tweeted he was thinking about replacing "FakeNews CNN," his long-standing nickname for the cable news network, with the moniker "FraudNewsCNN."
Since taking office, Trump has often characterized news major outlets such as the New York Times, ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, and the Washington Post as "fake news," even going so far as to claim the media is "the enemy of the people."