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CNN chief rips into White House over attacks on the media after receiving bomb

CNN chief rips into White House over attacks on the media after receiving bomb
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CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker on Wednesday tore into President TrumpDonald John TrumpDeath toll in Northern California wildfire rises to 48: authorities Graham backs bill to protect Mueller Denham loses GOP seat in California MORE and White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders for their sustained attacks on the press after the network's New York City office received an explosive device in the mail.

"There is a total and complete lack of understanding at the White House about the seriousness of their continued attacks on the media," Zucker said in a statement.

"The President, and especially the White House Press Secretary, should understand their words matter," he added. "Thus far, they have shown no comprehension of that." 

CNN employees evacuated the network's Manhattan offices at the Time Warner Center on Wednesday morning after a suspicious package was found in the mailroom. The item was addressed to former CIA Director John BrennanJohn Owen BrennanBrennan: 'I miss the days when American Presidents ... were respected for their honesty & integrity' CIA's ‘surveillance state’ is operating against us all Falsehood shames Clapper, Brennan and pledge to protect whistleblowers MORE, who works for NBC News as a contributor and has appeared on CNN.

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The package was determined to contain an explosive device similar to ones addressed to former President Obama, Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonOvernight Defense — Presented by Raytheon — First lady's office pushes for ouster of national security aide | Trump taps retired general as ambassador to Saudis | Mattis to visit border troops | Record number of female veterans to serve in Congress Election Countdown: Lawsuits fly in Florida recount fight | Nelson pushes to extend deadline | Judge says Georgia county violated Civil Rights Act | Biden, Sanders lead 2020 Dem field in poll | Bloomberg to decide on 2020 by February What midterm exit polls tell us about 2020 MORE and billionaire philanthropist George Soros. 

Trump and Sanders both condemned the threats, with the president urging unity and announcing a "major federal investigation" was underway to determine who was responsible.

"I just want to tell you that in these times, we have to unify," Trump said at a White House event later Wednesday. "We have to come together and send one very clear, strong, unmistakable message that acts or threats of political violence of any kind have no place in the Untied States of America."

Trump did not specifically mention any of the individuals who were targeted on Wednesday, despite explicitly criticizing each of them throughout his presidency.

Sanders denounced threats against CNN and public officials in a separate statement.

"These terrorizing acts are despicable, and anyone responsible will be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law," she said.

Trump has had a fraught relationship with the media dating back to his presidential campaign and extending into his tenure in the White House. The president often derides negative coverage as "fake news," and has, in recent months, repeatedly labeled the press the "enemy of the people."

That rhetoric has extended to Trump's campaign events, where the president routinely encourages supporters to jeer the media in attendance and supporters periodically break into chants of "CNN sucks."

The relationship between CNN and the Trump administration has been particularly contentious. The president has refused to take questions from White House correspondent Jim Acosta at multiple press conferences, attacking the network while doing so.

Sanders and Acosta regularly spar during White House press briefings, including a particularly intense clash over the administration's separation of migrant families.

The White House banned CNN reporter Kaitlan Collins from attending an open press event in July after she pressed Trump over his relationship with his former attorney Michael Cohen during a meeting with the head of the European Commission.

When questioned about those confrontations, the White House has repeatedly insisted that it's committed to a free press.