A user of an alt-right forum on the social news site Reddit who has posted anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim and racist items has claimed credit for a video tweeted by US President Donald Trump Sunday to attack the media.
The clip shows Trump wrestling to the ground and beating a “villain” –Vince McMahon, the owner and promoter of World Wrestling Entertainment.
It was part of a promotion ten years ago at the WrestleMania 23 event dubbed “The Battle of the Billionaires.”
McMahon’s wife, Linda, who founded and built the company with her husband, now heads the Small Business Administration for Trump and was a generous benefactor to his campaign.
In Trump’s version, McMahon’s face was superimposed with the CNN logo and the logo FNN –Fraud News Network — appears on the screen toward the end. The clip is titled, “Trump takes down fake news.”
It was not clear whether that was where the clip originated or where Trump found it, but Reddit user HanAssh*leSolo claimed credit and appeared to be the first to post it, The Washington Post reported Sunday.
The Reddit user posts on r/The_Donald, a Reddit subgroup used by people who idolize the president and enjoy insulting those they perceive to be his enemies.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 2, 2017
Among his previous posts was one in which he portrayed dozens of portraits of CNN personalities, each with a Jewish star of David superimposed.
Here's another meme from the guy Trump tweeted, this one showing CNN personalities with Jewish stars. pic.twitter.com/BJoJ751eMQ
— Jared Yates Sexton (@JYSexton) July 2, 2017
In another, he recalled visiting Paris carrying “punch blades sewn into my pockets” in case a Muslim attacked him. Any attacker would get “an immediate punch to the neck with 2 inches of titanium embedded in their throat,” he wrote.
He also posted comments such as “screw Islam,” called the prophet Muhammad a pedophile, appeared to defend the Ku Klux Klan, and made derogatory comments about black people and Jews.
The user, who described himself as a former Microsoft administrator, said he was “honored” for Trump, the “MAGA EMPORER himself” to have used his post.
The tweet is the latest in a series in which the US president has attacked the media. Coming a week after the president’s unbridled Twitter attacks on two MSNBC talk show hosts, it drew widespread condemnation from the media and from members of both political parties.
The president in the past has branded the media as “the opposition party” and “the enemy of the American people.” He has taken particular aim at CNN, calling the network “fake news.”
Trump stayed on the attack later in the day, stating on Twitter that “the dishonest media will NEVER keep us from accomplishing our objectives on behalf of our GREAT AMERICAN PEOPLE!”
Bruce Brown, the executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, condemned the video as a “threat of physical violence against journalists.” He said Trump’s tweet was “beneath the office of the presidency.”
A White House aide insisted the tweet should not send a chill across the media landscape.
“I think that no one would perceive that as a threat,” homeland security adviser Tom Bossert said. “I hope they don’t. But I do think that he’s beaten up in a way on cable platforms that he has a right to respond to.”
CNN accused Trump of engaging in “juvenile behavior far below the dignity of his office.”
White House officials traveling with Trump during his weekend stay at his New Jersey golf club did not immediately respond to questions about who made the video or about any message the president might have intended to send.
The president’s verbal shots against news outlets and individual members of the media have grown increasingly personal in recent days even as lawmakers in both parties say the insults only threaten to undermine his political agenda.
Trump has singled out MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski and CNN for some of his most biting criticism, and hardly is backing down in the face of widespread condemnation from the political class.
“The fake media tried to stop us from going to the White House, but I’m president and they’re not,” Trump told a supportive crowd Saturday in Washington.
A White House spokeswoman, Sarah Sanders, told reporters last week that Trump “in no way, form or fashion has ever promoted or encouraged violence.”
CNN, in its response to the video posted Sunday, said it was “a sad day when the president of the United States encourages violence against reporters. Clearly, Sarah Huckabee Sanders lied when she said the president had never done so.”
CNN’s statement noted the weighty list of issues before Trump — an overseas trip this week that includes a meeting with Russian leader Vladimir Putin, the stalled health care bill, the threat from North Korea. Instead of focusing on those matters, CNN said, “he is involved in juvenile behavior far below the dignity of his office. We will keep doing our jobs. He should start doing his.”
Trump’s latest tweet came as Republicans and Democrats have been imploring him to focus on leading the country, rather than exploding on social media.
For days, Trump has focused his ire on Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough, co-hosts of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
Trump took to Twitter on Thursday to call Brzezinski “crazy” and contend she was “bleeding badly from a face-lift” when he once saw them at his Florida estate. The comment was decried as sexist and vulgar by many Democrats and Republicans.
The MSNBC personalities said Friday that Trump was lying about their December encounter and they questioned his “unhealthy obsession” with their program.
The hosts, who are a couple onscreen and off, also said the White House told them a damaging National Enquirer story about their relationship would “go away” if they called the president and apologized for harsh commentary. Trump quickly disputed the claim on Twitter.
Republican officials acknowledged Sunday that Trump’s Twitter feed distracts from work like health care.
“We in Washington, we in the country, cannot be focused on tweets,” said Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., adding that “I get so frustrated when we get focused on tweets.”
Gov. John Kasich, R-Ohio, said he hoped Trump’s family would talk to him and say, “Knock it off.”
“The coarseness doesn’t help anybody,” he said.
Bossert and Kasich appeared on ABC’s “This Week.” Cassidy was on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”