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2017-07-02 13:13:02
Trump Tweets a Video of Him Wrestling ‘CNN’ to the Ground

President Trump posted a short video to his Twitter account on Sunday in which he is portrayed wrestling and punching a figure whose head has been replaced by the logo for CNN.

The video, about 28 seconds long, appears to be an edited clip from a years-old appearance by Mr. Trump in WrestleMania, an annual professional wrestling event. It ends with an onscreen restyling of the CNN logo as “FNN: Fraud News Network.”

Cartoonish in quality, the video is an unorthodox way for a sitting president to express himself. But Mr. Trump has ratcheted up his attacks on the news media in recent days — taking aim at CNN, in particular — while defending his use of social media. In a speech on Saturday, he said: “The fake media tried to stop us from going to the White House. But I’m president, and they’re not.”

The video, which was also posted to the official @POTUS Twitter account, was met with a mix of criticism, disbelief and dumbfoundedness. Some journalists denounced its portrayal of violence as dangerous, saying it could incite attacks or threats against news media employees.

The administration did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Mr. Trump’s homeland security adviser, Thomas Bossert, defended the video when he viewed it for the first time during a broadcast interview with Martha Raddatz of ABC News. “No one would perceive that as a threat,” Mr. Bossert said. “I hope they don’t.”

“He’s a genuine president expressing himself genuinely,” Mr. Bossert added.

A version of Mr. Trump’s video appeared last week on a Trump-dedicated page on the message board site Reddit, a popular meeting ground for some of Mr. Trump’s most fervent supporters. The CNN logo appears to be superimposed on the head of Vince McMahon, a wrestling magnate and a friend of Mr. Trump, who in his prepresidential years often appeared as a guest on wrestling shows.

In a statement on Sunday, CNN wrote: “It is a sad day when the president of the United States encourages violence against reporters.” The network added: “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 involved in juvenile behavior far below the dignity of his office. We will keep doing our jobs. He should start doing his.”

CNN also replied to Mr. Trump on Twitter with a quotation from one of the president’s press aides, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who in a briefing on Thursday told reporters: “The president in no way form or fashion has ever promoted or encouraged violence. If anything, quite the contrary.”

Mr. Trump regularly accuses CNN of bias against him and his administration. Hours before posting the video, he tweeted to his 33 million followers, “I am thinking about changing the name #FakeNews CNN to #FraudNewsCNN!”