US President Donald Trump accused the media of stirring up “anger” Thursday as the United States reeled from a series of suspicious packages and pipe bombs sent to prominent Democrats and actor Robert De Niro.
Political foes of the Republican commander-in-chief accused him of inciting violence after pipe bombs were sent to Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, CNN and other figures who are loathed by Trump supporters.
With midterm elections less than two weeks away, the US president reacted first by calling for unity, but then reverting to attacking the media, which he stepped up early Thursday.
“A very big part of the Anger we see today in our society is caused by the purposely false and inaccurate reporting of the Mainstream Media that I refer to as Fake News,” Trump tweeted.
Trump frequently labels stories he doesn’t like as “fake news.”
“It has gotten so bad and hateful that it is beyond description. Mainstream Media must clean up its act, FAST!”
The spree began Monday with a device found at the New York home of billionaire liberal donor George Soros.
The FBI said a total of seven suspicious packages were sent in New York, Washington and Florida, including to Obama’s attorney general Eric Holder and two to Maxine Waters, a California lawmaker.
On Thursday, a New York police bomb squad removed a similar looking package sent to De Niro at the TriBeCa Productions company he co-founded, sending it for analysis.
In June, 75-year-old De Niro received a standing ovation at the Tony Awards in New York for using an expletive to condemn Trump. During the 2016 campaign, the actor slammed the Republican as “blatantly stupid.”
A very big part of the Anger we see today in our society is caused by the purposely false and inaccurate reporting of the Mainstream Media that I refer to as Fake News. It has gotten so bad and hateful that it is beyond description. Mainstream Media must clean up its act, FAST!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 25, 2018
US media reported that a suspicious device was also addressed to Obama’s former vice president, Joe Biden, often rumored as a potential Democratic presidential candidate for 2020, in Delaware on Thursday.
The packages were sent in manila envelopes with bubble wrap, marked with computer-printed address labels. Each listed Debbie Wasserman Schultz, former chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, as the sender, including misspellings of her last name, the FBI said.
CNN evacuated its New York bureau after a pipe bomb was found in the mailroom together with an envelope containing white powder.
The packaging was addressed care of CNN to former CIA director John Brennan, who has appeared on the channel as a guest and is perhaps Trump’s toughest critic from the national security community.
CNN is known for its often critical coverage of the Trump administration and has constantly provoked the ire of the president.
On Wednesday, Trump condemned the mail bombs, saying “acts of political violence” have “no place in the United States.”
“The media also has a responsibility to set a civil tone and stop the endless hostility and constant negative, and often times false attacks and stories,” he later told a campaign rally in Wisconsin.
#MAGABomber trended as users flooded Twitter with accusations that Trump had incited the attempted attacks and highlighting the toxic remarks he has leveled against the pipe bomb targets in the past.
The FBI, US Secret Service and local police have mounted a full-scale criminal investigation, appealing to members of the public to come forward with any information they may have.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.