Donald Trump doubled down on efforts over the weekend to blame the media for his campaign’s failure to garner much traction, going as far as to say that his real opponent in the election is the media and not Hillary Clinton. “I’m not running against Crooked Hillary, I’m running against the crooked media,” Trump said at a rally in Fairfield, Connecticut. “That’s what I’m running against. I’m not running against Crooked Hillary.” It’s not just that the media aren’t helping, they’re actively hurting his campaign and if it wasn’t for all the negative coverage, he’d easily win the race. “If the disgusting and corrupt media covered me honestly and didn’t put false meaning into the words I say, I would be beating Hillary by 20 percent,” Trump tweeted on Sunday morning.
Even though the Republican presidential candidate has long been critical of the media, his rhetoric became even more heated over the weekend, starting on Friday when he said reporters are the “lowest form of humanity.” Then he seemed particularly upset about a New York Times piece that claimed Trump has ignored the advice of top aides and was struggling to figure out how to run a presidential campaign. He quickly threatened retaliation. “Maybe we will start thinking about taking their press credentials away from them,” Trump said on Saturday. “Maybe we’ll do it. I think so. I think so.”
He went further on Sunday, writing on Twitter that freedom of the press can’t be used as a shield: “It is not ‘freedom of the press’ when newspapers and others are allowed to say and write whatever they want even if it is completely false!”
Although complaints about campaign coverage are hardly new, particularly from Republicans, “the ferocity of Trump’s attacks is unprecedented in modern American politics,” notes CNN’s Brian Stelter.
Trump was hardly alone. Several campaign staffers and surrogates also took aim at the media in Sunday interviews. Trump’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, blamed news outlets for his candidate’s difficult week, saying the press likes to focus on a few comments the candidate makes rather than substantive stories about his policy proposals. Former Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer and Sen. Jeff Sessions also made similar points during interviews.
The Republican candidate is using the anti-media talking points as part of a fundraising drive, points out the Wall Street Journal. “You’ve seen it—the liberal media can’t stop telling outrageous lies about me,” Trump wrote in an email that went out Friday asking backers to contribute $7 million over seven days.