Soon after New York CNN employees returned to work after a pipe bomb and white powder were found in their offices in the Time Warner Center, CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker issued a statement directly criticizing President Trump and White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders for their constant rhetorical attacks on CNN and the media:
“There is a total and complete lack of understanding at the White House about the seriousness of their continued attacks on the media. The President, and especially the White House Press Secretary, should understand their words matter. Thus far, they have shown no comprehension of that.”
Sanders and Trump both condemned the actions of the still unknown senders of explosive devices to CNN as well as several prominent Democratic politicians and George Soros, but Zucker was not the only person to draw a connection between the president’s violent rhetoric—just last week the president praised a Montana congressman for assaulting a reporter—and the attempted bombings.
Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer said in a joint statement that “President Trump’s words ring hollow until he reverses his statements that condone acts of violence.” Republican Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake told a CNN anchor on the street in Manhattan, “What the president says matters, and if he were to take a more civil tone, it would make a difference. … The President shouldn’t refer to the press as the ‘enemy of the people.’ We all need to watch the rhetoric that we use.”
Zucker is not the first media executive to raise these concerns. A.G. Sulzberger, the publisher of the New York Times, met with Trump last summer and said he told him that “his language was not just divisive but increasingly dangerous” and that “I warned that this inflammatory language is contributing to a rise in threats against journalists and will lead to violence.”