By Eileen Sullivan and Maggie Haberman
WASHINGTON – President Trump shared on Twitter a cartoon on Tuesday morning of a train running over a person with a CNN logo covering the person’s head, three days after a fatal collision in Charlottesville, Va. Trump deleted his retweet minutes later.
Trump has been under fire for how he has publicly addressed bloody demonstrations by white nationalists over the weekend. Promoting a cartoon of a person being run over by a train appeared to belittle the attack by a driver who ran into a crowd of counterprotesters, leaving a 32-year-old woman dead on Saturday and 19 others injured. An Ohio man has been charged with second-degree murder in the crash.
On Monday, Trump bowed to pressure and condemned white supremacists protesting the removal of a Confederate statue, and the president called racism “evil.” But later Monday, Trump took to Twitter to criticize what he called the fake news media for not being satisfied with his additional remarks.
“Made additional remarks on Charlottesville and realize once again that the #Fake News Media will never be satisfied...truly bad people!” he wrote.
A White House official said early Tuesday that the tweet of the train was posted inadvertently and was deleted as soon as it was noticed.
A retweet requires two actions, clicks or taps on a smartphone or computer, in order to post, meaning the president would have had a second chance to be sure he wanted to tweet the cartoon.
The former director of the Office of Government Ethics called on lawmakers to condemn Trump’s post.
The president has long appeared to sanction violence, going back to his campaign when, at a rally, he said he wanted to punch a Black Lives Matter protester in the face. He later said the man, who was assaulted by Trump supporters in the crowd, might have deserved to get roughed up.
Trump and his associates have long been critical of CNN. On Tuesday, the president’s re-election committee issued a statement criticizing CNN for what the committee described as censorship because the news network did not air an advertisement that was released on Sunday.
The ad briefly shows faces of television journalists, including several from CNN, with the words “attacking our president,” and a voice-over at the end says “the president’s enemies” as their faces reappear.
A network spokeswoman said CNN would have accepted the ad if the reporters and anchors had been removed.
“Anchors and reporters don’t have ‘enemies,’ as the ad states, but they do hold those in power accountable across the political spectrum and aggressively challenge false and misleading statements and investigate wrongdoing,” Barbara Levin, the spokeswoman, said.
In July, Trump posted a video on his Twitter account portraying him wrestling and punching a figure whose head had been replaced by the CNN logo. The video appeared to be an edited clip from years ago when Trump was part of a professional wrestling event.
In a speech on Long Island a few weeks ago, the president told a group of law enforcement officers assembled for the event that he preferred they not be too “nice” with criminal suspects, a remark that drew widespread condemnation.
Late Monday, Trump also shared a post from the account of a pro-Trump conspiracy theorist suggesting that the media is ignoring violence in Chicago. The account owner, Jack Posobiec, is known for promoting false narratives such as the “Pizzagate” hoax and a conspiracy theory about the murder of a Democratic aide.
Trump’s tweet on Chicago violence was in keeping with comments he made throughout the campaign, and with what some of his allies said after Charlottesville, accusing the media of giving undue attention to the neo-Nazis who went to the town instead of the counterprotesters.
Trump has also frequently reached for Chicago’s violence as a negative example when explaining himself, including in a recent speech on Long Island, where he described the city’s high crime rate and argued that it was easier to fix than the city’s local leaders acknowledged.