People were appalled on Tuesday when President Donald Trump retweeted and then deleted a cartoon image of a train mowing down a CNN reporter. Many instantly noted how this controversial act falls just one day after Trump addressed the death of Heather Heyer, the protestor who died Saturday when she was struck by the car of an alleged white supremacist.
The original image was designed by The Indianapolis Star cartoonist Gary Varvel and featured a Democratic donkey figure trying to slow down a “Trump” train. The face of the donkey was replaced in the edited version with that of a CNN logo.
A White House official told The New York Times the tweet was inadvertently shared on Trump’s personal Twitter account before it was hastily taken down — but not before the act stirred more controversy for POTUS.
“We don’t know who altered Gary’s original cartoon but we’re looking into it,” Jeff Taylor, editor and vice president for news of The IndyStar, said. “The cartoon was altered without anyone’s knowledge or permission at the Star.”
“Everything the president has tweeted since dutifully reciting love-joy-unity speech has been an eff-you rage bomb,” Glenn Thrush, a White House correspondent for The New York Times, tweeted, among others.
On Saturday, Heyer died after protesting a “Unite the Right” white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, where a car drove through a crowd of people and struck her. James Alex Fields Jr., a 20-year-old Ohio man, was charged will Heyer’s death and denied bail.
Trump did not immediately address Heyer’s death, nor did he specifically call out white supremacists until two days later when he spoke to the nation in a statement read from a teleprompter.
“Racism is evil, and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans,” he said during a five-minute-long speech. “We are a nation founded on the truth that all of us are created equal. We are equal in the eyes of our creator, we are equal under the law, and we are equal under our Constitution. Those who spread violence in the name of bigotry strike at the very core of America.”
This wouldn’t be the first time Trump shared a controversial image depicting CNN on social media. In early July, the president posted altered footage from a WrestleMania event featuring himself body-slamming the network’s logo. “It is a sad day when the President of the United States encourages violence against reporters,” CNN said in a statement at the time.
This past Monday during an unruly exchange, Trump called a CNN reporter “fake news” and refused to answer his question.