The White House has accused CNN of dividing America as the news network criticised the Trump administration for a "total and complete lack of understanding" of the seriousness of its attacks on the media following the discovery of an explosive package sent to the media outlet's New York City office.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders on Wednesday hit back at CNN after the network's chief Jeff Zucker criticised her and President Donald Trump for showing a "total and complete lack of understanding... about the seriousness of their continued attacks on the media."
"The President, and especially the White House Press Secretary, should understand their words matter. Thus far, they have shown no comprehension of that," Zucker said as the network's New York bureau was evacuated for five hours on Wednesday following the discovery of an explosive device sent there.
The package turned out to contain an explosive device similar to ones addressed to former President Barack Obama, Bill and Hillary Clinton, and billionaire philanthropist and Democratic megadonor George Soros.
Hitting back at the CNN, Sanders cited remarks from Trump on Wednesday at the White House in which he had called for unity and pledged a full investigation into the incident.
Sanders said on Twitter
.@realDonaldTrump 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. https://t.co/Dlo3xwHyKi— Sarah Sanders (@PressSec) October 25, 2018
Trump, during the appearance at the White House on Wednesday afternoon, however, didn't mention CNN or any of the officials targeted by the device.
Senator Marco Rubio came out in support of the White House
Yes words matter. Because freedom of speech allows us to air & settle our disagreements & grievances using words INSTEAD of violence. The 1st Amendment protects press freedom,but it doesn’t bestow immunity from criticism. Criticism & calling people to violence are not the same. https://t.co/MFS48bRg75— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) October 24, 2018
CNN in a late-night article alleged that Trump has taken no responsibility for the tone of the political discourse.
Trump has had a tense relationship with the media dating back to his presidential campaign and extending into his tenure in the White House.
The relationship between CNN and the Trump administration has been particularly contentious. The news network has been a frequent target of Trump's "fake news" barbs.