The major media likes to celebrate itself for well-sourced reporting and vigorous fact checking, but when it comes to cases of domestic terror, the temptation for rank speculation is simply too difficult to resist. Especially when that speculation points in the direction of the major media's favorite bogeyman, President Trump.
While the facts were still being gathered, the media guessing game was already in full swing. Very quickly these TV talking heads settled on a single culprit: Republican "rhetoric," specifically from Trump.
On MSNBC, correspondents have been insinuating the suspicious packages’ can be tied back to Trump, in that the intended recipients have all been criticized by the president. The package sent to CNN was addressed to former CIA director, John Brennan, whom NBC’s Hans Nichols noted recently had his security clearance stripped at Trump’s behest.
“All of these people seem to have something in common,” MSNBC’s Craig Melvin said. “We know that CIA Director Brennan has also been a critic here, a vocal critic of the Trump Administration.”
"Yeah, I mean, the targets are fairly obvious,” MSNBC’s Clint Watts replied. “They've all been either brought up by the president or were opponents of him in different contexts.”
On CNN, White House Correspondent Jeff Zeleny likewise connected the threats back to Trump.
“Certainly a question for the president and the White House, is his rhetoric and his supporters that have been giving out, in these several weeks leading up to the elections, is that connected to any of this?” he asked. Zeleny also said those receiving bombs were criticized by Trump.
“The president is being briefed on this,” Zeleny reported. “So far they’re not saying we’re asking if he has a comment to the sense that all these packages are being sent to all these places he has criticized. As we’ve covered the rallies across the country, the rhetoric is extraordinarily intense. 13 days before the midterm elections. Indeed, it has been for a long time. We do not know if there is a correlation or not, but we are asking the White House for the president’s view on the rhetoric specifically. If he has an answer, we’ll let you know.”
On ABC, the hosts of “The View” said “it doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes” to connect the attacks to Trump.
“I've been texting with my former colleagues at CNN and they're scared. And one colleague — former colleague said, ‘This is what happens when the president calls you the enemy of the people’,“ Sonny Hostin said.
When Hostin’s co-panelist, Abby Huntsman, said it’s too soon to draw inferences, Hostin shot back: “Why didn’t Fox News get the bomb?” And Joy Behar said, “You don't have to be Sherlock Holmes,” to connect this to the president.
On CNN, Wolf Blitzer reported that Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s Florida office was being evacuated. As of this report, it’s unclear why, but Blitzer nonetheless drew a link to Trump. In reporting the breaking news, Blitzer mentioned that she was “another sharp critic of the president.”