US President Donald Trump has accused the media of trying to "score political points" against him by reporting on the series of improvised explosive devices sent to high profile Democratic leaders this week.
On Friday, FBI agents arrested a man named Cesar Sayoc, 56, in southern Florida. He is suspected of sending at least 14 pipe bombs to the residences of Bill and Hillary Clinton, former President Barack Obama, the offices of Democratic Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Maxine Waters, and others.
Sayoc has reportedly been an ardent supporter of the Trump administration and was seen attending his campaign rallies in 2017.
The incident happened ahead of key midterm elections on November 6, with Republicans trying to hang on to control of the House of Representatives and the Senate.
"In recent days, we've had a broader conversation about the tone and civility of our national dialogue," Trump said at a campaign rally in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Friday. "Everyone will benefit if we can end the politics of personal destruction."
"The media has a major role to play whether they want to or not," he said. "And they do indeed. They have a major role to play as far as tone and as far as everything."
He went on to say that "the media's constant unfair coverage, deep hostility, and negative attacks" was used to "undermine healthy debate."
"For example, we have seen an effort by the media in recent hours to use the sinister actions of one individual to score political points against me and the Republican Party," he added.
Trump has frequently criticized journalists and described news reports that contradict his opinion or policy positions as “fake news.”
In his Friday speech, he also compared the recent media's coverage to his administration's response following the shooting of Republican Rep. Steve Scalise during a congressional baseball practice in 2017.
Scalise was shot and injured by political activist and Trump critic James Hodgkinson, who died from his injuries after a shootout with police officers.
"Yet, when that Bernie Sanders supporter tried to murder congressional Republicans and severely wounded a great man named Steve Scalise and others, we did not use that heinous attempt at mass murder for political gain because that would have been wrong," Trump said. "It would have been the wrong thing to do."