President Trump launched his campaign for reelection at a rally in Orlando, Florida, on Tuesday night. As the MAGA spirit revved the crowd’s excitement, people began chanting “CNN sucks,” prompting the network to cut away during the coverage.
“CNN cut away from its coverage of President Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign kickoff Tuesday night shortly after he spurred the crowd to chant ‘CNN sucks,'” reports The Hill. “Just minutes into his rally speech Tuesday at the Amway Center in Orlando, Fla., Trump referred to his 2015 campaign announcement as ‘a defining moment in American history’ adding to ‘ask them right there’ as he pointed to the media covering the event.”
At that point, the crowd chanted the infamous “CNN sucks” amid a mixture of boos. Typical of the president, he used the moment for a bit of fun.
“By the way, that is a lot of fake news back there,” the president said, prompting cheers from the audience. “You know what I say, the amount of press we have tonight reminds me of the Academy Awards before it went political and their ratings went down the tubes.”
At that moment, after only six minutes of broadcasting, CNN cut away to John Berman as the president’s voice faded into the background.
“All right. We’ve been watching the president kick off his reelection bid. He’s been on stage for about six minutes. Within two minutes he did talk about the economy, but within four minutes it was attacks on the media,” John Berman said. “So, he was talking about a bright rosy future but then quickly reverted to some of the same themes he has been talking about since he began running for president.”
The chant “CNN Sucks!” and attacks on the media in general have become a staple of Trump rallies ever since the 2016 election. On several occasions, Trump’s critics, such as CNN correspondent Jim Acosta, have cited the moment as an example of President Trump’s alleged “dangerous” war with the media.
“Just a sample of the sad scene we faced at the Trump rally in Tampa. I’m very worried that the hostility whipped up by Trump and some in conservative media will result in somebody getting hurt. We should not treat our fellow Americans this way. The press is not the enemy,” Acosta said in 2018 after Trump supporters mocked him with chants of “CNN sucks.”
Later, reporters pressed the White House to demand that Trump supporters stop disrespectfully chanting “CNN sucks” at rallies, arguing that it could inspire violence. Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders gave them zero leeway.
“Is the White House willing to say right now, in view of what happened with one of our TV colleagues last night, that it is wrong for his most vocal supporters to be menacing towards journalists doing their job in a situation like that or any situation?” The Daily Mail’s David Martosko asked Sanders at the time.
“We fully support a free press,” Sanders said. “There also comes a high level of responsibility with that. The media routinely reports on classified information and government secrets that put lives in danger and risk valuable national security tools … While we certainly support freedom of the press, we also support freedom of speech. And we think those things go hand in hand.”