President Donald Trump tweeted a roughly edited video of himself Sunday morning tackling and repeatedly punching a figure with the CNN logo over its face in his latest attack against the mainstream news media.
The source for the video Trump tweeted is a clip from 2007 showing Trump body-slamming World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) owner Vince McMahon.
In the edited version of the video, Trump tackles and beats up the CNN figure before getting up and walking away.
"#FraudNewsCNN #FNN," Trump said in the tweet, which lacked any further context.
Trump was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2013. It was unclear if he was upset over a particular segment on the cable channel from Sunday morning or just with CNN's coverage of him in general.
The network fired back, saying in a statement that it was "a sad day when the President of the United States encourages violence against reporters."
"Instead of preparing for his overseas trip, his first meeting with Vladimir Putin, dealing with North Korea and working on his health care bill, he is instead involved in juvenile behavior far below the dignity of the office," CNN said in a statement Sunday morning. "We will keep doing our jobs. He should start doing his."
CNN’s public relations team also earlier tweeted a response to Trump’s attack, quoting Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the deputy press secretary, during Thursday’s White House press briefing, where she said, "The president in no way, form or fashion has ever promoted or encouraged violence. If anything, quite the contrary."
And both CNN and CNN Money’s Twitter accounts posted a story about why Twitter, which does suspend accounts for harassment, won't suspend Trump.
The executive editor of The New York Times, Dean Baquet, also issued a statement Sunday afternoon, calling the president's post "unseemly."
"I think it is unseemly that the president would attack journalists for doing their jobs, and encourage such anger at the media," Baquet said in the statement.
While the origin of the edited version of the WWE clip was unclear, it was posted on a pro-Trump Reddit thread four days ago.
Trump's homeland security adviser, Tom Bossert, defended the president's tweet on ABC's "This Week" program Sunday morning, saying "no one would perceive that as a threat" and that he had a "right to respond" to his critics.
"I'm pretty proud of the president for developing a Twitter and social media platform where he can talk directly to the American people," he said. "In fact, he's the most genuine president and the most non-politician president we’ve seen in my lifetime."
When Bossert, who also worked in the George W. Bush administration, was asked if he saw Trump's message as a threat against the media, he said, "I think that no one would perceive that as a threat. I hope they don’t. I do think that he is beaten up in a way on cable platforms that he has a right to respond to."
The bizarre tweet followed days of Trump escalating his attacks against the media and defending his use of social media as president of the United States.
"My use of social media is not Presidential — it’s MODERN DAY PRESIDENTIAL. Make America Great Again!" he said in a tweet Saturday evening.
Trump appeared to preview his Sunday morning attack on the network on Saturday, tweeting, "I am thinking about changing the name #FakeNews CNN to #FraudNewsCNN!"
And that tirade followed Trump drawing outrage from across the political spectrum on Thursday for crass tweets insulting MSNBC's "Morning Joe" hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski.
The tweets drew swift criticism from both Democrats and Republicans, with some charging that the president’s personal insults against Brzezinski were sexist.
Following the tweets on Thursday, Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., rallied support for a bill to create an oversight commission to determine whether the president is "mentally or physically unable to discharged the powers and duties of the office."
The bill had first been introduced in April, but Raskin tweeted Friday that it had 23 cosponsors.
And on Sunday, protesters gathered in Austin, New York, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, San Francisco and other cities throughout the country in rallies calling for Trump’s impeachment.