President Trump crowned his weekend rage against the news media by tweeting a mock video Sunday morning that shows him pummeling a man in a business suit the man’s face obscured by the CNN logo outside a wrestling ring.
Mr. Trump, who has branded the media as the “opposition party” and CNN as “fake news,” 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!”
It wasn’t immediately clear who produced the brief wrestling video, which appears to be a doctored version of Mr. Trump’s 2007 appearance on World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. The 28-second clip was posted on Mr. Trump’s official Twitter account with the message: “#FraudNewsCNN #FNN.”
Bruce Brown, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, condemned the video as a “threat of physical violence against journalists.” He said Mr. Trump’s tweet was “beneath the office of the presidency.”
Brown added, “Freedom of the press is a cornerstone of our democracy. The press are the people’s window into the halls of power, and most importantly, they are the people’s check on that power. When the president attacks the press, he attacks the people.”
A White House aide insisted the tweet shouldn’t send a chill across the media landscape.
“I think that no one would perceive that as a threat. 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,” Homeland Security Adviser Tom Bossert said on ABC’s “This Week.”
CNN accused Mr. Trump of engaging in “juvenile behavior far below the dignity of his office.”
White House officials traveling with Mr. Trump during his weekend stay at his New Jersey golf club didn’t immediately respond to questions about the video.
It appeared to be a doctored version of an appearance Mr. Trump made on a World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. show called “Battle of the Billionaires” in 2007, in which Mr. Trump appears to attack WWE CEO Vince McMahon.
McMahon’s wife, Linda, who founded and built the company with her husband, now heads the Small Business Administration for Mr. Trump and was a donor to his campaign.
The video was posted several days ago by a Reddit user with the title, “Mr. Trump takes down fake news.” It was not clear whether that was where it originated or how Mr. Trump found it. Still, the user wrote Sunday about being “honored” Mr. Trump had tweeted the video. The user who posted the video has a history of posts using anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant language.
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.
At a Saturday evening “Celebrate Freedom” concert honoring veterans, Mr. Trump continued the battle, promising an adoring crowd that America would “win again” and prompting cheers with attacks on the news media.
“The fake media tried to stop us from going to the White House, but I’m president and they’re not,” he said.
He also defended his use of social media, describing it Saturday as “modern day presidential.
Democrats and Republicans alike criticized Mr. Trump late last week for his personal attacks on MSNBC co-hosts Mika Brezinsky and Joe Scarborough.
On Thursday, Mr. Trump slammed CNN three staffers resigned from the network, after their reporting on a Trump associate’s financial ties to Russia was retracted.