The White House has been celebrating what it views as vindication of President Donald Trump on the Mueller probe by attacking the media harshly.
The move comes amid increasing hostility against journalists from Trump’s staunchest supporters, and as authorities crack down on foiled plots to violently target the members of the press whom Trump himself has called a threat to the country.
Monday night — just one day after Attorney General William Barr delivered his summary of special counsel Robert Mueller’s findings to lawmakers on Capitol Hill — White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweeted out a graphic from The New York Post containing a “Mueller Madness” bracket of various media pundits who were believed to be biased against Trump. The bracket also included the names of several reporters who had written or reported on the probe.
Barr stated in his summary on Sunday evening that Mueller had found no evidence of conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia.
“Which of the angry and hysterical @realDonaldTrump haters got it most embarrassingly wrong?” Sanders wrote from her official @PressSec account on Monday. “#YouDecide.”
Sanders doubled down Tuesday morning, quoting her own tweet and adding, “How many times do the Democrats and their liberal media allies have to be proven embarrassingly wrong about @realDonaldTrump before they finally accept he’s been a great President?”
Trump himself tweeted one of his most hostile attacks on “the mainstream media” just an hour earlier, calling it “corrupt,” “FAKE,” and the “Enemy of the People and the Real Opposition Party.”
The Mainstream Media is under fire and being scorned all over the World as being corrupt and FAKE. For two years they pushed the Russian Collusion Delusion when they always knew there was No Collusion. They truly are the Enemy of the People and the Real Opposition Party!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 26, 2019
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway piled on Tuesday morning during an interview with Fox News.
Responding to a question about attorney Michael Avenatti, who represented adult film actress Stormy Daniels, the woman paid by Trump’s former lawyer ahead of the 2016 election to keep quiet about her alleged affair with Trump, Conway accused the media of being “guilty” of rushing to judgment in an effort to besmirch the president.
Avenatti was arrested Monday for allegedly attempting to extort millions of dollars from Nike.
“They took [Avenatti] at his word many times,” she said, referencing the attorney’s other work representing Julie Swetnick, the woman who previously claimed she had seen now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh spike girls’ drinks at parties in high school. “…I see a pattern here: Kavanaugh, Covington kids, collusion, conspiracy, coordination. It’s just a rush to judgment, wishful thinking, imbue credibility on people who otherwise shouldn’t have it…because they fit with the narrative, they fit with the goal to get this president.”
The Trump administration has repeatedly attacked the media over the past few years, and the cumulative impact has been to foment real hostility against journalists.
Last week, 57-year-old Cesar Sayoc, a fierce Trump supporter, pleaded guilty to mailing explosives to numerous targets, including members of the media. The Florida resident was a registered Republican who had expressed views critical of the press and Democrats on social media.
Coast Guard Lt. Christopher Paul Hasson, an avowed white nationalist, was also recently arrested for allegedly amassing a stockpile of firearms to target both Democratic politicians and journalists. Hasson had reportedly parroted Trump’s language in social media posts and had allegedly targeted members of the media who had been critical of the president.
Trump’s attacks on the press have spilled over into real-world incidents at his own rallies as well. At an event in El Paso last month, a Trump supporter attacked a BBC cameraman and other news members after the president called them “totally dishonest” for fact-checking his claims.
Trump’s demonization of the media often includes direct encouragement of violence among his supporters. Earlier this month, the president told Breitbart that his supporters in the police and military, as well as members of Bikers for Trump, could get “tough” if they needed to and that it would be “very bad” for his opponents if they did. At a rally in October, he lauded his Montana supporters for standing by Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-MT) after the lawmaker bodyslammed a reporter.
The White House did not respond to a request for comment about this latest round of attacks on the media.