Trump’s Condemnations Mean Nothing


AP News

Officers stand outside the Time Warner Center after a suspicious package was sent to CNN last week.

Tom Hopkins, Staff Writer

Last week, CNN’s headquarters in New York was evacuated due to a suspicious package arriving in the mailroom. Similar packages arrived at the homes of former President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton on the same day, and in businessman George Soros’ mailbox the day prior. All of the packages contained homemade pipe bombs.

What all of these targets have in common is that they are frequent punching bags for President Donald Trump and are often the subjects of the right-wing conspiracy theories.

Thankfully, no one was hurt, at least not physically, but the message was clear. The news outlets will call these bomb threats, or bomb scares, which is technically accurate, but a more apt term would be domestic terrorism. These are premeditated actions taken with the intent of making a certain group of people afraid—namely, the perceived enemies of the president.

The White House condemned the threats via Mike Pence’s Twitter, saying: “We condemn the attempted attacks against former President Obama, the Clintons, CNN and others. These cowardly actions are despicable and have no place in this country. Grateful for the swift response of Secret Service, FBI and local law enforcement. Those responsible will be brought to justice.”

Later that day, Trump himself added to the discourse.

“I just want to tell you that in these times, we have to unify,” Trump said. “We have to come together and send one very clear, strong, unmistakable message that threats or acts of political violence have no place in the United States of America.”

The problem with these condemnations is that, after years of Trump and his administration rallying against the press, they don’t really mean anything.

The Trump Administration has not hidden its contempt for journalists, labeling the media as “the enemy of the people,” cheering the assault of Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs at the hands of Republican Congressman Greg Gianforte and backing the Saudi government even after it became apparent that its officials were responsible for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

These examples are all very recent, so how can anyone take Trump’s plea for togetherness seriously? How can someone who has done nothing but sow division and disharmony have the nerve to now try to spread a message of unity? The White House statement and Trump’s comments are just salt in the wound to journalists and their families and their friends, who fear for the lives of their loved ones. Media personnel are no longer just hard-working folks doing their jobs. They have become pariahs and targets of violence since Trump’s war on truth has begun.

Trump’s anti-media rhetoric has convinced enough people that the media is a threat to America. The condemnations don’t do anything to comfort those who were threatened last week. They won’t do anything to prevent future threats or terrorist actions against journalists or anybody who opposes Trump and his policies. It’s too little, too late for that. The condemnations come off as more of a wink and a nod to Trump’s base than anything else.