President Trump took to Twitter in the very wee hours Friday to continue his run-in with his critics over the series of suspicious devices sent to prominent Democrats this week.
At 3:14 a.m., he tweeted, "Funny how lowly rated CNN, and others, can criticize me at will, even blaming me for the current spate of Bombs and ridiculously comparing this to September 11th and the Oklahoma City bombing, yet when I criticize them they go wild and scream, 'it's just not Presidential!'"
Many media members and politicians have blamed him for setting a harsh tone and not taking responsibility for contributing to the ongoing poisonous political atmosphere.
"Nobody else is being as divisive and inciteful as Donald Trump and so to suggest otherwise is completely wrong," said former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, who is considering a 2020 Democratic presidential campaign. "We wouldn't even be having this conversation with any other president, Republican or Democrat, because they would be big enough to avoid this kind of hateful and inciteful rhetoric."
Mr. Trump on Thursday had yet to call former Presidents Obama or Clinton about the packages sent their way -- the one sent to Mr. Clinton's home was addressed to Hillary Clinton. But Mr. Trump had spoken to Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York, the state where many of the packages were delivered
The president also hasn't delivered a speech from the Oval Office to call for national unity in the wake of the devices scare.
He did return to a favorite punching bag of his.
"A very big part of the Anger we see today in our society is caused by the purposely false and inaccurate reporting of the Mainstream Media that I refer to as Fake News," the president tweeted Thursday. "It has gotten so bad and hateful that it is beyond description. Mainstream Media must clean up its act, FAST!"
At a campaign rally Wednesday night, after the first of the devices arrived at their destinations -- Mr. Trump called for "peace and harmony" — but also criticized the media for what he said was "endless hostility."
tweeted in Mr. Trump's defense: "I didn't blame Bernie Sanders when a Bernie supporter shot Congressman Steve Scalise. And I'm not going to blame President Donald Trump for this nut job" who sent out the devices.
The Scalise reference was to the 2017 shooting that badly injured Scalise and others. The gunman, James Hodgkinson, had posted social media messages suggesting he targeted Republicans.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders called it "disgraceful" to suggest the president bears any responsibility for the packages sent to his opponents. She told reporters Thursday that there's a big difference between "comments made and actions taken." She, too,.
Asked whether the president intended to tone down his rhetoric and personal attacks, she said the president would "continue to lay out the case in the differences between Democrats and Republicans" ahead of the midterm elections next month.
Mr. Trump has insisted that those on the right have been victims of harassment as well, pointing to high-profile incidents in which conservatives have been accosted in restaurants and public spaces by political critics. A number of his allies, including his eldest son, Donald Jr., and conservative commentator Lou Dobbs, have used social media to promote the idea that the devices may be a Democrat-run hoax.
The reactions were more evidence of the new politics of the Trump era, in which a news cycle moves on fast and there seems to be little incentive for either party to seize the high road.
Less than two weeks before the midterms, the sending of the devices to top Democrats - an episode that might have prompted national reflection in another era - hardly made a ripple on the campaign trail. Attack ads remained on the air and attack lines stayed in stump speeches.
Instead, what might have been a moment for a deeply divided country to come together became the latest fodder for Democrats and Republicans to blame each other for America's shortcomings.
Aides at the national Democratic and Republican Senate campaign arms said they were seeing nothing to suggest candidates were adjusting their messages or schedules because of the explosives scare.
But many candidates were beginning to move into their closing election messages, which are typically more positive.
Indiana Republican Senate candidate Mike Braun was airing a new ad equating Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly to one of the inflatable dancing devices used to attract attention at car dealerships, describing him as a "say-anything, do-nothing senator."
Other candidates, such as Wisconsin's Republican Senate candidate Leah Vukmir and the Democratic senator she's trying to unseat, Tammy Baldwin, were plowing ahead as well. Vukmir linked Baldwin to Hillary Clinton on Wednesday amid chants of "Lock her up!" at an evening rally with Mr. Trump. Baldwin was planning to go ahead with an event Friday with Mr. Obama in Milwaukee.