That was “a lot closer to the line than this childish screenplay,” Schulz said.

Timothy Naftali, a presidential historian at New York University, cited the false “Pizzagate” conspiracy theory that last year prompted a North Carolina man to “self-investigate” social media claims that a child-sex ring was being run out of Comet Ping Pong, a restaurant in Northwest Washington, by Hillary Clinton.

The man fired a gun inside the restaurant; no one was physically hurt but the man was sentenced to four years in prison.

“No president has publicized his hatred for the media in the way Donald Trump has,” Naftali said. “It’s not a fake fear. People can be radicalized by things like this.”

Wagner and Gregg reported from Washington. Karoun Demirjian in Washington contributed to this report.