Trump's hateful rhetoric is the real enemy of the people

Thursday night, President Trump tweeted: “FAKE NEWS - the enemy of the people!" A few minutes later, a bomb threat was called into the CNN headquarters in New York City, and the whole building, along with adjacent buildings, had to be evacuated.

Coincidence?

We many never know for sure, but what is unmistakable is that when you have a commander in chief who so openly insults journalists on a daily basis, it helps create a cauldron of hate and resentment that may drive someone to do something unthinkable.

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How long until we can draw a vivid line from Trump’s hateful words to someone’s deadly deeds? You could argue that the line can already be drawn.

In October, we witnessed the deadliest synagogue shooting in the history of the United States. Hate crimes have shot up significantly since Trump took office.

Trump declared himself a nationalist, which for many is code language for someone who ascribes to the tenets of white supremacy.

The “bomber” who in October sent more than 16 bombs to CNN, Democratic leaders, ex-presidents, etc., had been seen at Trump rallies chanting “CNN sucks.”

And who can forget the murder perpetrated in Charlottesville last year as neo-Nazis marched, spewing their xenophobia, racism and bigotry, while the president of the United States declared there were “very fine people on both sides?”

Most recently, the killing of Washington Post writer Jamal Ahmad Khashoggi was arguably made more palatable to Trump’s ally Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman because of Trump’s repeated attacks on the press as the “Enemy of the People”

Journalists and media professionals strive on a daily basis to objectively bring Americans the truth, report the facts and back all of it up with empirical evidence.

Around the world, journalists put their lives on the line every day in war-torn countries to shed light on the plight of refugees and the unspeakable brutality of dictators and warlords.

A free media is a cornerstone of a free society. You cannot have one without the other. The president of the United States should, under any circumstance, vociferously defend a free media, no matter how much he or she may disagree with or dislike the manner in which they are being covered or the stories that are being reported.

If the White House does not like a story or truly believes there are factual errors in the reports they don’t like, then by all means, challenge the reporter to report the facts and to correct their stories.

In fact, there have been times when well-known and respected media outlets have gotten stores wrong and/or their facts mixed up. When that happens, the outlet and reporter admit their mistake, retract the original story and correct it with the new information.

But that is not the case when the president rails on CNN, The New York Times or The Washington Post and screams they are fake news and the enemy of the people. He does this not because the stories are factually inaccurate but because he hates that the stories are being reported at all.

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The only way he knows how to respond, since facts and truth are never on his side, is with insults and false accusations that have become dangerous and foreboding. It is Trump’s language that has become a danger to the country and many who live here.

How is a president who insults his own former cabinet secretaries, has insulted people of color in America, insults and belittles his political foes, insults decorated military heroes and paints immigrants as criminals and gang members not considered a menace to the republic?

When you occupy the highest office in the land and are considered the leader of the free world, your words matter. They have an effect on people. If your words are uplifting and unifying, then you are doing your job.

If your words are divisive and hateful, then who is the real enemy of the people?

Maria Cardona is a principal at the Dewey Square Group, a Democratic strategist and a CNN/CNN Español political commentator. Follow her on Twitter @MariaTCardona.