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Bodyslams, bombs and shootings: Anti-media violence in Trump's America

A group of people at a Trump rally shout at CNN reporter Jim Acosta.
Photo: Sean Rayford/Getty Images

Since President Trump took office, attacks on the media have been his go-to strategy at rallies, on Twitter and elsewhere.

The big picture: Past presidents have argued it’s their job to tone down the heat in moments of high tension and unease, especially following deadly acts of domestic terrorism. But Trump told "Axios on HBO" this week that his divisive rhetoric is his "only form of fighting back," and that his supporters crave it. Meanwhile, the past two years have seen a shift in the political landscape between the media and the public, something several press freedom organizations describe as being of "grave concern."

Violence against the media since Trump's rise to presidency:

  • Conservative essayist Bethany Mandel purchased a handgun, The Daily Beast reported in 2016, after receiving anti-Semitic and threatening messages from apparent Trump supporters after she denounced then-candidate Trump.
  • Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs was body-slammed last year by Republican Congressional candidate Greg Gianforte. President Trump, at a rally for Gianforte last month, said that "[a]ny guy that can do a body slam, he is my type!"
  • A t-shirt advocating for hanging journalists, which reads "Rope. Tree. Journalist. Some assembly required," was sold on Walmart's website last fall. A Walmart spokesperson said the shirt was sold by a third-party seller and removed from their site "as soon as it was brought to our attention."
  • Five journalists were killed and two were injured in a shooting at the Capital Gazette newsroom in Annapolis, Maryland, this summer — the deadliest attack on journalists in the U.S. since 9/11.
  • A pipe bomb was mailed to CNN, addressed to former CIA director John Brennan.
  • A man was arrested after threatening to shoot Boston Globe employees, saying in a threatening phone call: "You're the enemy of the people and we're going to kill every ... one of you."
  • CNN's Brian Stelter aired a call from a CSPAN viewer and Trump supporter who says he wants to shoot Stelter and Don Lemon if he sees them.
  • A man was arrested after allegedly making 40 threatening calls to CNN, which included death threats to a reporter USA Today identified as Don Lemon.
  • Trump rally attendees consistently level insults at media covering the event.

One more thing: Protestors surrounded the home of Fox News host Tucker Carlson, chanting “We know where you sleep at night.” His wife was at home; no one was injured but one person cracked the front door after throwing themselves against it, per the Washington Post.

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