Getty Images Chip Somodevilla
The rolling assassination attempts against prominent critics of President Trump, as well as much of the senior leadership of the Democratic Party, continued on Friday. Authorities in New York and Florida found two additional pipe bombs, bringing the total to 12. Surely it won’t be long until we can safely characterize this as a campaign of domestic terrorism. And of course, we’re about to jump into another news cycle where, inevitably, the president refuses to accept any responsibility for how his increasingly violent and apocalyptic rhetoric has contributed to the current atmosphere of a nation on the brink.
Check that: he now appears to be suggesting the rolling assassination attempts against his political opponents are a false-flag election stunt by…someone.
This is obviously some sick, Alex Jones-style evidence-free conspiracy-mongering. The President of the United States is suggesting…what? That the bombs aren’t real? That the Democrats bombed themselves? But there’s also something else truly sinister in the background here. When the president says “news not talking politics,” he’s very likely lamenting that Fox News and CNN are no longer giving the wall-to-wall treatment to his number one propaganda piece for this election cycle: The Caravan.
The president and his allies have worked very hard to turn a group of people marching 1,000 miles away, many of whom will not make it to the U.S.-Mexico border and even fewer of whom will gain entrance to the United States, into a faceless horde of brown people dead-set on invading this country. Never mind that they intend to present themselves to immigration authorities legally when they arrive, hoping to get a hearing for their asylum claims—as is their right under international law. Trump has signaled an intent to bar their claims, possibly in violation of international law, and got his supposedly Adult-in-the-Room Secretary of Defense, James “Mad Dog” Mattis, to send 800 federal troops to the border.
For a while, it wasn’t just Fox ginning up the hysteria, which was very much intended to demonize Democrats—whom Trump cast as wanting to throw open the borders and allow the hordes in—and get The Base of scared old white people out to vote. CNN and The New York Times also bit on this sequel to The Ebola Panic (2014) and The Email Protocol (2016). But Republicans’ best-laid plans have been disrupted by the very inconvenient development that someone is trying to murder their colleagues across the aisle. Trump’s response has been to say the quiet parts out loud: These Bombs Are Crowding Out My Propaganda! You’d think the “very unfortunate” part would be the attempted murder.
This is truly sick stuff, and it follows a 3 a.m. Tweet Machine attack on CNN—which was targeted with a pipe bomb two days ago—and a complaint that he’s not getting enough retweets. It would be fun to joke that this is Presidential! if the risk weren’t growing by the day that someone is going to get killed in this country.