Donald Trump attacked the hosts of MSNBC’s Morning Joe on Thursday, making an especially crude reference to anchor Mika Brzezinski “bleeding badly” from a facelift.
The president fired off at Brzezinski and co-host Joe Scarborough in a series of tweets posted just before their morning show was drawing to a close.
“I heard poorly rated Morning Joe speaks badly of me (don’t watch anymore),” Trump wrote.
Trump was sleazy with a reporter. Her awkward laugh felt all too familiar
“Then how come low-IQ, crazy Mika, along with Psycho Joe, came to Mar-a-Lago three nights in a row around New Year’s Eve, and insisted on joining me. She was bleeding badly from a face-lift. I said no!”
This is not the first time Trump has taken aim at Morning Joe – a popular early-morning politics show – for being critical in its coverage of him. But his comments about Brzezinski drew immediate comparisons to Trump’s feud with then-Fox News host Megyn Kelly, and his assertion during the election that she had “blood coming out of her wherever” while moderating a Republican primary debate.
“She gets out and she starts asking me all sorts of ridiculous questions,” Trump said of Kelly in a CNN interview at the time. “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever. In my opinion, she was off base.”
Trump denied he was referring to Kelly’s menstrual cycle, and remained unapologetic despite the subsequent backlash. Trump has a history of making vulgar comments about women – he referred to Rosie O’Donnell as a “fat pig” and a “slob”, and called Arianna Huffington a “dog”. He was criticized this week for making comments about the appearance of Caitriona Perry, an Irish journalist.
Trump once shared a friendly rapport with the Morning Joe hosts, frequently calling in to their program during the Republican primaries. But Trump began levying personal attacks against the duo during the general election, deeming their coverage of him unfair.
Trump once threatened to “tell the real story” of Scarborough’s relationship with Brzezinski (the co-hosts are engaged to be married). In that instance, Trump made similarly gendered remarks about Brzezinski by referring to her as Scarborough’s “very insecure long-time girlfriend” and “a neurotic and not very bright mess”.
While Scarborough and Brzezinski were sighted at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort on New Year’s Eve, Scarborough publicly denied they were there to participate in the festivities. “Nothing that Mika and I did in setting up this meeting was any different than what all good reporters and news hosts try to do daily,” Scarborough said in January, adding: “I hope we get the interview.”
Trump’s latest tirade follows a renewal of his attacks on the media, which included a tweet storm on Wednesday against the New York Times, the Washington Post and CNN over their recent coverage of his presidency.
Melania Trump pledged to combat cyberbullying as first lady, although little action has followed since her husband took office.
In a statement to reporters on Thursday, the first lady’s spokesperson said: “As the first lady has stated publicly in the past, when her husband gets attacked, he will punch back 10 times harder.”
Top White House aide Sarah Huckabee Sanders echoed this on Fox News. “This is a president who fights fire with fire, and certainly will not be allowed to be bullied by liberal media,” Sanders said.
White House: Trump tweets didn’t go too far – video
Later at the White House press briefing she denied that Trump had gone too far with the tweets. “I think the president has been attacked mercilessly on personal accounts, by members on that programme, and I think he’s been very clear that when he gets attacked, he’s going to hit back,” she told reporters. “I think the American people elected somebody who’s tough, who’s smart and who’s a fighter and that’s Donald Trump.”
Sanders complained that Morning Joe had repeatedly used phrases such as “utterly stupid”, “personality disorder” and “mentally ill” in reference to the president and called his allies “liars” to their faces. “He’s not going to sit back and be attacked by the liberal media, Hollywood elites, and when they hit him he’s going to hit back,” she added, while insisting that he has never promoted violence.
The deputy press secretary rejected the argument that Trump had been sexist in drawing attention to a woman’s looks. “Look, everyone wants to make this an ‘attack on a woman’. What about the constant attacks that he receives or the rest of us? I’m a woman and I’ve been attacked by this show multiple times but I don’t cry foul because of it. I think you want to create this false narrative: on the one hand let’s treat everybody equally, on the other hand they attack, attack, attack and he responds and apparently that’s wrong.”
But the tweet met immediate condemnation from a number of congressional Republicans. Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina tweeted: “Mr President, your tweet was beneath the office and represents what is wrong with American politics, not the greatness of America.” Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska took a more indirect approach, begging: “Please just stop. This isn’t normal, and it’s beneath the dignity of your office.”
Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins of Kansas, the second highest ranking Republican woman in the House of Representatives, tweeted: “This is not OK. As a female in politics I am often criticized for my looks. We should be working to empower women.”
Adrienne Watson, a spokesperson for the Democratic National Committee, said the president’s “bullying” tweets were “an attack on women everywhere”.
She said: “Trump has a long pattern of making demeaning, sexist and discriminatory comments about the women who take him on. The fact that they happen frequently doesn’t make them OK. From his Twitter slurs to his policies, we have a president who continues to show us he has no regard for women and whose comments demean the office he holds.”
Brzezinski herself responded on Twitter with an image that appeared to mock the size of the president’s hands.