White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders embraced an odd line of defense to justify Donald Trump’s response to the spate of mail bombs sent to Democrats this week. According to Politico’s Twitter account, while speaking to reporters, Sanders said that the president shouldn’t be blamed for the attacks any more than Bernie Sanders was blamed when a self-confessed supporter, James T. Hodgkinson, shot a congressional staffer and members of the congressional police force in Virginia last year, as CNN reports.
Sanders said that Trump was “not responsible for sending suspicious packages to someone, no more than Bernie Sanders was responsible for a supporter of his shooting up a Republican baseball field practice.”
Trump has come under fire for his inflammatory rhetoric in the wake of several prominent Democrats — including former president Barack Obama, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, California Representative Maxine Waters, billionaire philanthropist George Soros, former vice president Joe Biden, and vehement Trump critic, Robert De Niro — having been sent suspicious packages this week. CNN also reported having received a pipe bomb at their New York studios.
While Trump condemned the attacks and called them a threat to democracy initially, he later attacked mainstream media’s “hostility” as a primary reason for the attacks.
“As part of a larger national effort to bridge our divides and bring people together, the media also has a responsibility to set a civil tone and stop the endless hostility and constant negative and often times false attacks and stories. Have to do it. They’ve got to stop.”
A very big part of the Anger we see today in our society is caused by the purposely false and inaccurate reporting of the Mainstream Media that I refer to as Fake News. It has gotten so bad and hateful that it is beyond description. Mainstream Media must clean up its act, FAST!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 25, 2018
When addressing the suspected bomb targeting CNN employees, Sanders said the president was “not responsible for sending suspicious packages to someone, no more than Bernie Sanders was responsible for a supporter of his shooting up a Republican baseball field practice” pic.twitter.com/eZhUGwmNyA
— POLITICO (@politico) October 25, 2018
Trump was roundly criticized for blaming the media for the attacks, with former CIA Director John Brennan laying the blame squarely on Trump’s shoulders.
“Stop blaming others. Look in the mirror. Your inflammatory rhetoric, insults, lies, & encouragement of physical violence are disgraceful. Clean up your act….try to act Presidential,” Brennan wrote on Twitter in response to Trump’s statement. “The American people deserve much better. BTW, your critics will not be intimidated into silence.”
But Sarah Sanders, while talking to reporters Thursday morning, refused to blame Trump. Sanders also blasted CNN for blaming Trump for the attacks, saying that while the president’s first response to the attacks was to condemn violence, the network’s first response was to blame the president.
With the November midterm elections on the immediate horizon, it remains to be seen whether or not these suspicious packages have any impact on the rolling polls — and whether or not the issue will resonate in the collective consciousness of the American electorate.