CNN was reporting that its offices were evacuated Wednesday (Oct. 24), as well as several floors of Time Warner Center in New York, after a suspicious package was found.
The White House issued a statement about suspicious packages--reportedly containing explosive devices--that were intercepted on their way to the homes of former Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, as well as the White House.
“We condemn the attempted violent attacks recently made against President Obama, President Clinton, Secretary Clinton, and other public figures," said Sarah Sanders. "These terrorizing acts are despicable, and anyone responsible will be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law. The United States Secret Service and other law enforcement agencies are investigating and will take all appropriate actions to protect anyone threatened by these cowards.”
In the statement, Sanders made no mention of any package targeted to the White House, though there had been earlier reports that one to the White House had also been intercepted. CNN, after initially reporting the White House package, later said the Secret Service said there had been no package sent to the White House.
President Trump tweeted his support for a tweet by Vice President Mike Pence condemning the threats to CNN and the others.
CNN was reporting from outside the building that the package had made it into the building, and said that package appeared to be contained an "explosive device."
Reporter Shimon Prokupecz said the device appeared to be a pipe bomb.
CNN anchor Jim Sciutto was reporting from his phone on the street outside the Time Warner Center, where several floors have been evacuated, he said.
Anchor Wolf Blitzer reported that the package had been addressed to CNN, but to former Obama CIA director John Brennan, who is not employed by the network.
James O'Neill, NYPD police commissioner, said in a statement on the incident that there was also a white powder associated with the package that was being analyzed.
NBCU's WTVJ Miami was also reporting that police were investigating a possible suspicious package the local offices of Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, another prominent Democrat.
Fox was reporting that, according to various reports, another suspicious package was also sent to former attorney general Eric Holder.
A pipe bomb was discovered earlier in the week at the home of high-profile billionaire Democratic donor George Soros.
With no White House package, the link between the packages was that they were being sent to high-level Democrats or their supporters or Trump Administration critics. They are also all people that President Donald Trump has attacked, CNN pointed out
"The Democrats will invoke violent mob rule, endless witch hunts against anyone they want, open borders, job-killing regulations, assaults on the Constitution, high taxes, and high crime -- all to empower themselves," he said in a fund-raising e-mail Wednesday.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said it was obviously an attempt to terrorize the free press and public officials. He praised CNN for the "professionalism" with which it handled the situation.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo echoed the praise for CNN.
As the day progressed, reports of other packages were added, including to Cuomo and Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), the latter a prominent and passionate critic of Trump and Republicans.
At a White House event on the opioid crisis Wednesday afternoon, First Lady Melania Trump strongly condemned the attacks and "all who choose violence," but then turned to the opoid issue as her husband stood a few feet away, closed-mouth and grim looking.
When it was his turn to talk, the President also began by providing "an update" to the "suspicious packages and devices"sent to former high-ranking government officials.
Neither Trump nor the First Lady mentioned the package sent to CNN or its evacuation.
But the President generally called them despicable acts and said the country had to come together to send the message that acts or threats of political violence "have no place in the United States of America."
Syracuse University Newhouse School Associate Professor of Broadcast and Digital Journalism Simon Perez saw the incident in New York as another reason for journalists to be on guard. "The public has changed the way it views journalists," said Perez. "Twenty years ago, the presence of a broadcast news crew was often met with deference, hushed whispers of “Is that the guy/woman on the news?” Now, the whispers have turned into confrontation. CNN’s crews and the thousands of other reporters and videographers who hit the streets to cover news stories for their communities need to have their heads on a swivel, and, as CNN did today, continue to do their jobs."
Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.
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