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Trump blames media, 'the true Enemy of the People,' for inspiring hate

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President Trump lashed out at the press Monday over criticism of his response to the massacre at a Pittsburgh synagogue and the earlier mail bomb plot targeting Democrats. The president blamed the news media for fanning the rhetorical flames that appear to have inspired the suspects, and he refused to take any responsibility for doing so himself.

“There is great anger in our Country caused in part by inaccurate, and even fraudulent, reporting of the news,” Trump wrote in a pair of tweets. “The Fake News Media, the true Enemy of the People, must stop the open & obvious hostility & report the news accurately & fairly. That will do much to put out the flame [of] Anger and Outrage and we will then be able to bring all sides together in Peace and Harmony. Fake News Must End!”

The tweets followed a similar message published on the president’s Twitter feed late Sunday night.

President Trump points to members of media as he speaks at a campaign rally in Charlotte, N.C., last week. (Photo: Chuck Burton/AP)
President Trump points to members of media as he speaks at a campaign rally in Charlotte, N.C., last week. (Photo: Chuck Burton/AP)

“The Fake News is doing everything in their power to blame Republicans, Conservatives and me for the division and hatred that has been going on for so long in our Country,” Trump tweeted. “Actually, it is their Fake & Dishonest reporting which is causing problems far greater than they understand!”

Trump’s tone in the wake of the mail bomb plot and deadly synagogue have come under intense scrutiny. The president went through with a planned political rally in Murphysboro, Ill., on Saturday night, hours after a gunman opened fire the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, killing 11 people and injuring six others, including four police officers.

Slideshow: Mourning the victims of the Pittsburgh synagogue attack >>>

The president defended the decision to go ahead with the event, erroneously claiming that the New York Stock Exchange reopened the day after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. Contrary to Trump’s claim, the NYSE remained closed for the rest of the week, reopening on Sept. 17.

Earlier Saturday, Trump mourned the victims of the synagogue massacre, condemning the shooting as an “evil anti-Semitic attack” and vowed to work to “extract the poison of Anti-Semitism from our world.”

But late Saturday night, Trump used his Twitter feed not to refocus the nation’s attention on the synagogue shooting but instead to comment on a controversial pitching change during the World Series.

On Sunday morning, the president tore into Tom Steyer, who was among the prominent Democrats targeted last week by a serial mail bomber.

“Just watched Wacky Tom Steyer, who I have not seen in action before, be interviewed by @jaketapper,” Trump tweeted. “He comes off as a crazed & stumbling lunatic who should be running out of money pretty soon. As bad as their field is, if he is running for President, the Dems will eat him alive!”

Steyer, a California billionaire who has funded an ad campaign calling for Trump to be impeached, has told friends he is considering a presidential bid in 2020.

“Tom Steyer was one of the Democrats targeted with a pipe bomb by a crazed Trump supporter,” CNBC correspondent Christina Wilkie noted in a tweet. “Three days later, Trump is back to calling Steyer a ‘lunatic’ on Twitter.”

On Monday morning, CNN, which was also targeted by the alleged mail bomber, said another suspicious package addressed to the network was intercepted at a mail facility in Atlanta.

At the White House, press secretary Sarah Sanders defended the president’s criticism of the media during a rare press briefing on Monday afternoon.

“The very first thing the president did was condemn the attacks,” Sanders said. “The very first thing the media did was blame the president and make him responsible.”

Sanders also attempted to clarify Trump’s “Enemy of the People” tweet.

“The president is not referencing all media,” she said. “He’s talking about the growing amount of fake news that exists in the country.”

Sanders, though, refused to say which news outlets the president considers the people’s enemies.

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