It is rare that a single news organization attracts the level of ire mustered by President Trump, who over the weekend posted on Twitter a video that portrayed him wrestling a figure with the logo of CNN for a head.
But the president’s denunciations — in stinging tweets and slashing speeches, in phrases like “fraud news” and “garbage journalism” — have far outstripped his criticisms of other prominent news outlets, like The New York Times or The Washington Post. And his attacks have spawned a cottage industry of Trump supporters who have declared a digital war of sorts against CNN, including gotcha videos of network employees and threatening messages sent to anchors’ cellphones.
The onslaught has contributed to a foxhole-like mentality inside CNN’s offices, where security measures have been tightened and some hosts have considered abandoning their social media accounts because of abuse. Other employees, like Chris Cuomo, co-anchor of the morning show “New Day,” insist that the scrutiny has only galvanized them further.
“I’m comfortable going to work in Thunderdome every day,” Mr. Cuomo said in an interview, referring to the steel-cage fighting venue of the “Mad Max” movies.
Still, CNN’s troubles have been compounded by a series of recent self-inflicted wounds — not least a high-profile retraction of a sensitive article about one of Mr. Trump’s close allies, which last week led to the forced resignations of three veteran journalists.
Those who serve Dear Leader are rewarded with glory. Those who oppose him will be snuffed out.
Mr. Trump’s allies argue that it is CNN’s conduct that is unbecoming. Starting on last year’s campaign trail, the president and his aides have accused the network of bias and arrogance, an offensive that heated up again in January after CNN reported on the existence of a secret dossier detailing a series of lurid accusations against Mr. Trump. The network’s reporters now routinely joust with Mr. Trump’s press aides, and Jim Acosta, a White House correspondent, recently denounced the administration’s use of off-camera briefings as an affront to American values.
White House advisers have discussed a potential point of leverage over their adversary, a senior administration official said: a pending merger between CNN’s parent company, Time Warner, and AT&T. Mr. Trump’s Justice Department will decide whether to approve the merger, and while analysts say there is little to stop the deal from moving forward, the president’s animus toward CNN remains a wild card.
I know it's hard to cheer for Time Warner/AT&T in this scenario because Trump wrecking yet another media mega-merger out of spite would actually be far better for the American consumer in the long run, and it would be yet another very public example of Trump being unfit to govern.
It doesn't however make it right.