President Donald Trump denounced the series of improvised explosive devices that were sent to high profile Democratic leaders this week, but accused the media for using the incident to “score political points” against him and the Republican Party.
“In recent days, we’ve had a broader conversation about the tone and civility of our national dialogue,” Trump said at a campaign rally in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Friday. “Everyone will benefit if we can end the politics of personal destruction.”
“The media has a major role to play whether they want to or not,” Trump said. “And they do indeed. They have a major role to play as far as tone and as far as everything.”
Trump claimed that “the media’s constant unfair coverage, deep hostility, and negative attacks” was used to “undermine healthy debate.”
“For example, we have seen an effort by the media in recent hours to use the sinister actions of one individual to score political points against me and the Republican Party,” Trump said.
Trump referenced the arrest of 56-year-old Cesar Sayoc Jr., who is suspected of being connected to at least 13 mail bombs that were sent to the residences of Bill and Hillary Clinton, former President Barack Obama, the offices of Democratic Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Maxine Waters, and others.
Sayoc is believed to have been an ardent supporter of the Trump administration and was seen attending Trump’s campaign rallies in 2017. His suspected social media accounts also appeared to send threatening messages to Trump’s critics.
In his speech, Trump compared the media’s coverage of the attempted bombing to his administration’s response after the shooting of Republican Rep. Steve Scalise during a congressional baseball practice in 2017. Scalise was shot and injured by political activist and Trump critic James Hodgkinson, who died from his injuries after a shootout with law enforcement officials.
“Yet, when that Bernie Sanders supporter tried to murder congressional Republicans and severly wounded a great man named Steve Scalise and others, we did not use that heinous attempt at mass murder for political gain because that would have been wrong,” Trump said. “It would have been the wrong thing to do.”
“The media has tried to attack the incredible Americans who support our movement to give power back to the people,” Trump added. “It’s what our movement is. Our supporters are some of the most honest, wonderful, like you, principled, hardworking, patriotic people on the face of God’s earth.”
Despite his claims, Trump’s critics have long alleged that his rhetoric in public statements and on Twitter instigated political unrest. Critics have pointed to Trump’s numerous campaign rallies, where the president describes his political opponents as “crazy” and other derogatory terms, as an accelerant to political violence.