Another Deplorable Trump Twitter Tirade
Once again, Donald Trump has taken to Twitter with a tirade that amounts to yet another misogynistic attack on a female media personality:
President Trump assailed the television host Mika Brzezinski on Thursday in unusually personal and vulgar terms, the latest of a string of escalating attacks by the president on the national news media.
Shortly before 9 a.m., as Ms. Brzezinski’s MSNBC show “Morning Joe” was ending, Mr. Trump used Twitter to taunt Ms. Brzezinski and her co-host, Joe Scarborough, referring to them as “low I.Q. Crazy Mika, along with Psycho Joe” and saying that at one point Ms. Brzezinski was “bleeding badly from a face-lift.”
Mr. Trump has launched broadsides this week against several of the country’s major television networks and newspapers, accusing the news media of creating “fake news” and of unfairly fixating on his campaign’s links to Russian officials. At the White House, the president’s deputy press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said on national television that Americans “deserve something better” from the country’s media.
The graphic nature of the president’s suggestion that Ms. Brzezinski had undergone plastic surgery was met with immediate criticism on social media. Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, wrote on Twitter, “Mr. President, your tweet was beneath the office and represents what is wrong with American politics, not the greatness of America.” And a spokesman for NBC News, Mark Kornblau, wrote on Twitter: “Never imagined a day when I would think to myself, ‘It is beneath my dignity to respond to the President of the United States.’ ”
In a statement Thursday morning, MSNBC said, “It’s a sad day for America when the president spends his time bullying, lying and spewing petty personal attacks instead of doing his job.”4
Mr. Trump’s comment on Thursday echoed a contentious remark that he made about another female television anchor, Megyn Kelly, during last year’s presidential campaign. “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever,” Mr. Trump said, a remark that was widely seen as a reference to menstruation and drew rebukes from women’s groups.
The president and his team were buoyed this week by a major error at CNN, which retracted a report about one of Mr. Trump’s associates; three journalists who worked on the story resigned. Mr. Trump seized on CNN’s mistake, attacking the news network and other news organizations including The New York Times and The Washington Post.
Here are the Tweets in question:
I heard poorly rated @Morning_Joe speaks badly of me (don’t watch anymore). Then how come low I.Q. Crazy Mika, along with Psycho Joe, came..
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 29, 2017
…to Mar-a-Lago 3 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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 29, 2017
Trump’s comments were seemingly justified by his Deputy Press Secretary and the Communications Director for the First Lady:
— Fox News (@FoxNews) June 29, 2017
— Yashar Ali (@yashar) June 29, 2017
Mika Brezinski, meanwhile, responded:
— Mika Brzezinski (@morningmika) June 29, 2017
And several members of the President’s party in the Senate called out the President for being beneath the dignity of his office:
Please just stop. This isn’t normal and it’s beneath the dignity of your office.
— Ben Sasse (@BenSasse) June 29, 2017
Mr. President, your tweet was beneath the office and represents what is wrong with American politics, not the greatness of America.
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) June 29, 2017
This has to stop – we all have a job – 3 branches of gov’t and media. We don’t have to get along, but we must show respect and civility.
— Sen. Susan Collins (@SenatorCollins) June 29, 2017
Given his history, which includes attacks on female celebrities and, most notably during the campaign, on Megyn Kelley who co-hosted the first debate in the 2016 Republican Presidential race and made news by calling Trump out on his previous comments about women, this is hardly surprising. That it is so obviously misogynistic is also no surprise in light of the even more graphic comments he was recorded making during a taping of Access Hollywood that were made public during the General Election campaign and, at least for a time, appeared to be something that would doom his campaign. This isn’t even the only misogynistic thing he’s done this week. Earlier this week, while on the phone with the Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister), Trump called over a female reporter for what is essentially Ireland’s equivalent to the BBC and made comments about her looks while talking to the Irish Head of Government.
So, no, this is not surprising. At the same time, though, that doesn’t mean that what he said here isn’t shocking and deplorable.
It’s true that Scarborough and Brezinski have been particularly critical of Trump over the past couple months, and that this stands in marked contrast to those times over the past two years when Morning Joe seemed to be the then-candidates favorite forum given the number of times he would appear by phone, sometimes seemingly at random. Additionally, they’ve made no secret of the fact that they interacted with Trump on a personal level, both in New York City and at his resort in Florida. So perhaps Trump has taken the recent criticism personally and responded with what can only be called an irrational and childish outburst not befitting the office he purports to hold. That doesn’t make the attack acceptable, though. Furthermore, it is yet another in a long list of things that this President has done or said since January 20th that causes one to call into question his grasp on the realities of the job. As Allahpundit notes, this is supposed to be “Energy Week” at the White House, one meant to showcase Administration policy initiatives dealing with issues such as gas and oil production, alternative energy, and nuclear power. Instead, we’re once again talking about what the President said on Twitter. It’s really quite pathetic.
As Aaron Blake notes, this latest Twitter tirade demonstrates everything wrong with Trump’s Presidency:
It’s difficult to overstate how counterproductive and poorly conceived this was. The GOP health-care effort is hanging by a thread, and it just so happens that three of the five female Republican senators — Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski, Maine’s Susan Collins and West Virginia’s Shelley Moore Capito — are considered crucial swing votes. At least one Republican congresswoman, Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-Kan.), effectively called Trump out for sexism.
In addition, just a couple weeks back, Trump’s daughter and White House adviser Ivanka Trump complained about the “viciousness” of D.C. politics — comments that were pretty laughable at the time and now seem even more so — and his wife, Melania Trump, is supposed to be running a campaign against cyberbullying. And, as Philip Bump notes, Trump’s itchy Twitter finger has become basically the one thing that Americans of all political stripes agree on; a poll this week showed that seven in 10 Americans think it is “reckless and distracting.”
Whatever you think of a president or his policies, the fact is that all presidents need help. They need to rely on people who know better about given subjects to offer them advice. They might not always take it, but smart executives are those who are good at delegating and assembling the best groups of advisers to help them with their blind spots and compensate for their flaws. The fact that nobody in the White House has prevailed upon Trump to cut this out pretty much says it all when it comes to whether he’s both getting and accepting good advice.
Twitter is also a regular reminder of what has long been Americans’ least-favorite quality in Trump: his temperament. A Quinnipiac University poll this month found that just 29 percent of Americans describe Trump as “level-headed.” Even one-third of Republicans said the president is not a prudent man.
This trait is also hugely important when it comes to legislating. Trump this month labeled the House GOP health-care bill “mean,” despite having celebrated its passage in a Rose Garden speech. Left twisting in the wind were all those House Republicans who took a very difficult vote to pass it. And you have to believe that GOP senators considering their own very tough votes on the Senate’s version are concerned that Trump will fly off the handle one day and toss them under the bus. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said it well this week of senators considering supporting the health-care bill: “Here’s what I would tell any senator: If you’re counting on the president to have your back, you need to watch it.”
Tweets like those about Brzezinski are a near-perfect encapsulation of how Trump doesn’t listen to anybody, how he is a victim of his own often-very-unhelpful whims, and how he’s prone to alienating even those who are tempted to work with him and defend him.
Chris Cillizza, meanwhile, hits the nail on the head in pointing out what’s wrong about all this:
There’s a natural human tendency when faced with a series of behaviors considered outrageous or unacceptable to begin to slough them off. To normalize them. That’s just Trump being Trump! He says stuff!
But, this is the President of the United States we are talking about. Someone who, whether he likes it or not, is a role model. Someone who has a profound influence on how not only we adults treat each other but how our children view the acceptable bounds of how to act toward one another.
Trump is, without doubt, the subject of lots and lots of rhetorical attacks — some of them personal — every single day. But, his problem is that he is incapable of differentiating between disagreements about policy or even tone and genuine attacks on him personally.
Saying that his health care bill is bad policy that could endanger peoples’ health who might lose their insurance is a policy disagreement. Saying that calling the House health care bill “mean” is a bad strategic move is a political disagreement. Neither are
Trump is also seemingly incapable of grasping the fact that as President of the United States, he needs to hold himself to a higher standard of conduct. Because of the power and prominence of his office, his words and action matter more than if he was simply a private citizen. He can’t simply pop off because his words have ramifications — whether that’s about foreign policy or face-lifts.
The White House spin here — he punches back when punched — is not even close to good enough.
Look. This is bullying, plain and simple. And, it’s bullying by a powerful man against a woman because of her looks. He also attacked her intelligence and her sanity.
Condemning Trump for this should not be a political decision. It should be a moral one. We don’t want to live in a society where a powerful man (or any man!) can use his social media following to intimidate or bully a woman. Or anybody. Is it acceptable to bully a reporter with a disability just because the reporter is a man? That’s something we should all be able to agree is not a good thing. And is the sort of thing we need to stand up against because we don’t want our kids growing up in a world in which that sort of thing becomes even marginally acceptable behavior.
The fact that Trump’s defenders are, well, defending this latest nonsense is hardly surprising. They’ve stood by him through so much other nonsense that it wouldn’t make sense for them to abandon him now. As I put it on one occasion just before the primaries began in 2016, Donald Trump could perform an abortion on a woman dressed like the Virgin Mary in a church on Christmas Eve and these people would cheer him on and attack his critics. Their support for Trump comes with the kind of single-mindedness one sees in members of a cult and it’s unlikely to be shaken by the fact that he’s spending his time as President of the United States obsessing over media criticism and attacking women. At the same time, though, these people don’t represent all of the people who voted for Trump last November. That group also included otherwise reasonable Republicans who remained loyal to their party. At what point are they going to recognize the mistake they’ve made and the damage that this President is doing to their party and to this country? The nation awaits an answer.