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Trump rips into his perceived enemies on Twitter

POLITICO logo POLITICO 4/23/2019 By Caitlin Oprysko

President Donald Trump talks to reporters outside the White House on April 10, 2019. © Kevin Lamarque President Donald Trump talks to reporters outside the White House on April 10, 2019. President Donald Trump went on a tear on Twitter Tuesday morning, demanding an apology from the New York Times, complaining he doesn’t get enough credit for the economy, claiming Twitter discriminates against him, and ripping into the “Radical Left Democrats.”

It was a dizzying burst from Trump, who has bounced from claiming victory after the release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report to seeking revenge on the media, Democrats and even his own aides.

In all, Trump tweeted or retweeted more than 50 times in a 24-hour period.

The media was the primary target of Trump's ire Tuesday morning, as he complained that he is subjected to an unprecedented level of press scrutiny and lashed out at outlets from The New York Times to morning cable news shows while also taking shots at individual personalities.

“Paul Krugman, of the Fake News New York Times, has lost all credibility, as has the Times itself, with his false and highly inaccurate writings on me,” Trump wrote in his first post of the day, attacking the economic columnist who is often critical of the White House. “He is obsessed with hatred, just as others are obsessed with how stupid he is. He said Market would crash, Only Record Highs!”

In a second tweet, the president added: “I wonder if the New York Times will apologize to me a second time, as they did after the 2016 Election. But this one will have to be a far bigger & better apology. On this one they will have to get down on their knees & beg for forgiveness-they are truly the Enemy of the People!”

In a letter to readers following the 2016 election, then-publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. and executive editor Dean Baquet wondered whether Trump’s “sheer unconventionality lead us and other news outlets to underestimate his support among American voters,” and pledged to rededicate itself to probing the driving forces of the election. But Trump has frequently claimed that the Times apologized to him for its coverage in the wake of his election, something the paper has repeatedly denied took place.

Trump then turned his fire more generally to the rest of the media, accusing "totally insane" Democrats of colluding with the press to hamper his presidency, although he offered no evidence of such a conspiracy.

“I guess that means that the Republican agenda is working,” he wrote, teasing: “Stay tuned for more!”

He asserted, falsely, in yet another tweet that he was entitled to more positive coverage based on the strength of the economy, claiming that “in the ‘old days’ if you were President and you had a good economy, you were basically immune from criticism.”

He went on: “Today I have, as President, perhaps the greatest economy in history...and to the Mainstream Media, it means NOTHING. But it will!” He complained that the economy's strength under his administration should inoculate him against criticism that he has nonetheless been the subject of.

To bolster his argument, Trump also invoked a catchphrase coined by former President Bill Clinton — “it’s the economy, stupid” — while ignoring that Clinton was himself impeached by the House despite overseeing a thriving economy in the '90s.

The president's venting came on the heels of last week's release of Mueller’s report on Russian election interference, which cleared Trump on allegations of collusion but offered a damning view of his White House and has driven talk of potential impeachment back onto the airwaves.

Trump has fumed over the public response to Mueller’s report and how his advisers are portrayed in it, taking his frustration to his Twitter feed, where he has tweeted or retweeted more than 100 times in the five-day span since the report’s release.

His apparent fury with the media may also stem from how much of its reporting that he has derided as “fake news” over the last two years of the Russia probe were borne out in Mueller’s findings.

Adding to the pile-on, a new poll Monday showed his approval rating had plummeted five points to match his lowest all-time.

Trump's screed also came hours before he was set to honor White House News Photographers Association award recipients in the Oval Office and days before the White House Correspondents’ Association hosts its annual dinner on Saturday night. Trump, in the midst of his Twitter flurry, broke from criticizing news outlets and personalities by name briefly to plug the rally he will hold in Wisconsin instead of attending the dinner.

But he quickly returned to his grievances. He offered up his thoughts on the three cable networks’ morning news shows, calling “Fox & Friends,” where he receives almost unflinchingly positive coverage, "by far the best of the morning political shows on television.” He ripped MSNBC's "Morning Joe," where he was once a frequent guest, and CNN's "New Day" as far inferior to their Fox News counterpart.

The president mocked CNN for promoting former “New Day” host Chris Cuomo and giving him his own primetime show despite what Trump contended was “his massive failure in the morning.”

“Only on CNN!” he added.

To “Morning Joe” co-host Joe Scarborough, Trump offered tongue-in-cheek thanks for helping "get me elected in 2016 by having me on (free) all the time.” The president said the MSNBC morning show, where he is the subject of near-constant criticism, “has nosedived, too Angry, Dumb and Sick.”

Scarborough, whose show was airing live as Trump’s tweets posted, took the opportunity to respond to the president on-air.

“Hi, Donald, how you doing? We love that you watch us,” he said.

“Tell him to stop, it's a sickness,” co-host Mika Brzezinski interjected, and as the show’s panel dismissed and ridiculed Trump’s barbs, the chyron was changed to read “Morning Psycho responds to faithful viewer.”

Scarborough then took a more serious tone, thanking the show’s employees and noting that ratings were continuing to climb before facetiously thanking Trump.

“We thank the president for drawing everybody's attention to it,” he joked.

The Times offered a more solemn response to the president’s tirade, replying on Twitter with a link to publisher Sulzberger’s response from February to his attacks on the press.

“The phrase ‘enemy of the people’ is not just false, it’s dangerous,” it read. “It has an ugly history of being wielded by dictators and tyrants who sought to control public information.”

The Times’ opinion division also defended Krugman from the president’s attacks, noting that in 2008 he won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences.

“He is a valued member of our team of Opinion columnists,” they wrote on Twitter, along with a link to his columns.

In another set of tweets, Trump laid into Twitter, quoting Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo calling him the “best thing ever to happen to Twitter” but complaining that the platform doesn’t “treat me well as a Republican.”

He repeated criticisms from conservatives who accuse the social media outlet of censoring them, calling the site “very discriminatory.” Trump also claimed, without evidence, that Twitter made it “hard for people to sign on” and is “constantly taking people off [the] list,” apparently chiding the company for its removal of bot accounts or referring to accusations the network applies “shadow bans” to conservatives.

“Big complaints from many people...But should be much higher than that if Twitter wasn’t playing their political games,” he wrote. “No wonder Congress wants to get involved - and they should. Must be more, and fairer, companies to get out the WORD!”

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