President Trump took a break from blasting out tweets smacking the "Obstructionist Democrats" for blocking the border wall on Thursday to take a swipe at another one of his favorite targets: CNN and the rest of the "Fake News Universe." The occasion? The latest faux scandal, which is already backfiring on the glaringly partisan outlet that manufactured it.
"CNN & others within the Fake News Universe were going wild about my signing MAGA hats for our military in Iraq and Germany," Trump wrote Thursday evening. "If these brave young people ask me to sign their hat, I will sign. Can you imagine my saying NO? We brought or gave NO hats as the Fake News first reported!"
On Thursday, CNN targeted the U.S. troops in Iraq who asked President Trump to sign their “Make America Great Again" hats and their "Trump 2020" patches during his visit Wednesday to air bases in Iraq and Germany. The network dedicated a segment of "The Situation Room" on the supposed controversy and published a follow-up on its website that suggested troops violated rules by asking Trump to sign their pro-Trump gear.
For the "Situation Room" segment, CNN brought on Retired Rear Adm. John Kirby, a former Obama administration spokesperson, who said that the troops' actions were "completely inappropriate" because MAGA and Trump 2020 are campaign slogans. In its online coverage, CNN charged that "requests for the autographs could brush up against Department of Defense guidelines for political activities." CNN then cited Department of Defense guidelines stating that "active duty personnel may not engage in partisan political activities and all military personnel should avoid the inference that their political activities imply or appear to imply DoD sponsorship, approval, or endorsement of a political candidate, campaign, or cause."
But as The Daily Wire's Hank Berrien highlights, the network failed to include this clause from the guidelines: "Active duty members may, however, express their personal opinions on political candidates and issues, make monetary contributions to a political campaign or organization, and attend political events as a spectator when not in uniform."
As the controversy heated up online, the U.S. Air Forces Europe (USAFE) responded to the CNN-promoted issue with an unequivocal statement: "There is no rule against Airmen bringing personal items to be signed by the president. Any time the commander in chief offers the opportunity to meet with Airmen, such as this official holiday visit by the President and First Lady, Airmen are welcome to participate. No policy violations have been brought to our attention at this time."
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders has also responded to CNN's troop-targeting faux scandal. "CNN will attack anyone who supports President Trump, including the brave men and women of our military who fight everyday to protect our freedom," she wrote Thursday.
CNN is now facing backlash for revealing, once again, that it has a double standard when it comes to President Trump. "Oddly, CNN never criticized troops when former President Barack Obama and his wife, First Lady Michelle Obama, signed memorabilia back when Mr. Obama was campaigning to become president in 2008," writes The Daily Wire's Amanda Prestigiacomo.