CNN was slammed for what many -- including White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders -- called overwhelmingly negative coverage of President Trump’s visit to the troops overseas.
Both the president and first lady Melania Trump surprised troops stationed in Iraq the day after Christmas, which was followed by another visit with troops in Germany.
However, there was barely a kind word toward the president regarding his trip overseas — at least on CNN. On Wednesday evening, the network's reporting drew attention to some troops bringing MAGA hats for the president to sign and how this may be against the guidelines, which forbids active members of the military from participating in “political activities.”
The story by CNN politics reporter Eli Watkins, headlined “Troops bringing Trump hats to sign may violate military rule,” was criticized by Sanders, who fired back at CNN on Thursday, tweeting that the network “will attack anyone who supports President Trump, including the brave men and women of our military who fight everyday to protect our freedom.”
Sanders was hardly the only person to mock CNN's story on social media.
CNN Politics’ verified Twitter account was ratioed when Watkins’ story was sent out, which is typically a sign that the majority of readers don’t agree. As of Thursday morning, the tweet received over 3,300 comments and only 826 likes.
Meanwhile, several watchdogs pointed out that President Obama also signed autographs when visiting troops.
CNN’s criticism of Trump visiting the troops wasn’t limited to Watkins' report — the network took a negative tone throughout their evening coverage.
CNN anchor Jim Sciutto blasted Trump for his “routine lying,” while CNN military analyst Mark Hertling criticized Trump for getting “political” during his visit. Former Obama State Department spokesman John Kirby even dinged the president for not visiting with Iraqi security forces, who are also part of the fight against ISIS.
Ex-Obama senior adviser David Axelrod told Sciutto that it’s “good” that Trump went to see the troops and that “we should give him credit where credit is due,” but slammed the president’s political rhetoric.
“It does give you the sense that this was sort of a box-checking exercise in many ways for the president. It was a serendipitous timing because it clearly was planned before everything that’s happened. And you know, yesterday was kind of an orgy of self-pity and rage on Twitter from the White House,” the CNN political commentator said. “So it changed the subject, it put him in a much better position coming with all the turmoil in the Defense Department. It’s a valuable thing but peculiar in many other ways.”
CNN anchor Don Lemon took shots at Trump for visiting the troops while the U.S. Coast Guard continues to work without pay during the partial government shutdown and later referred to Trump as “The Grinch” for making Christmas about him as well as his visit with the troops. Former NSA adviser Samantha Vinograd agreed, saying the president “should’ve stayed home.”
Later on, CNN’s April Ryan said Trump’s visit with the troops “should have happened a long time ago” and questioned whether everyone “should be commending him” for something presidents have done in the past.