Trump ignores backlash in ongoing feud with the media
President Trump continued his blitz against major U.S. media outlets on Saturday, despite the wave of backlash that followed his particularly personal attack on a female MSNBC host this week.
Trump’s very public duel with MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” taking place over the course of several days this week, earned bipartisan pushback and frustration from some in his party who felt the back-and-forth distracted from the GOP legislative push to reform healthcare.
But on Saturday, Trump signaled that for him the battle is far from over. He also expanded his media targets.
The morning salvos began with Trump leveling an accusation that NBC and its parent company Comcast had forced out MSNBC anchor Greta Van Susteren this week in retribution for her alleged refusal to go along with what he has deemed negative coverage of him and his administration.
Minutes later, Trump took aim at a familiar target: CNN. The news network, he said, had “been exposed” for propagating “fake news” and “garbage journalism,” after it retracted an article last week claiming that Senate investigators were probing a Russian bank with ties to a top Trump ally.
That retraction, and the subsequent resignations of three top journalists at the network, has been hailed by Trump in recent days as validation of his ongoing assertions that he’s been treated unfairly by the news media.
But it was a third broadside against the media on Saturday — a tweet insulting “Morning Joe” co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski — that threatened the most controversy.
“Crazy Joe Scarborough and dumb as a rock Mika are not bad people, but their low rated show is dominated by their NBC bosses. Too bad!” Trump wrote on Twitter.
The tweets followed a public — and bipartisan — uproar that broke Thursday after Trump leveled a graphic attack on Brzezinski, dubbing her “low I.Q. Crazy Mika” and claiming that she was “bleeding badly from a face-lift” when she and Scarborough visited Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club last year.
For Trump, a slight against a news organization or a television personality is not out of the ordinary.
But at issue was the personal and crude nature of the accusation, which prompted lawmakers and partisans on both sides of the aisle to swiftly condemn the president’s use of Twitter and his treatment of women.
“Mr. President, your tweet was beneath the office and represents what is wrong with American politics, not the greatness of America,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) tweeted on Thursday.
With Senate Republicans currently pushing to get ObamaCare repeal-and-replace legislation to the floor for a vote, one Senate Democrat even accused Trump of using his media feud to distract from problems with that process.
“Frankly, this is just part of his ongoing tactic of distracting,” Sen. Christopher Coons (D-Del.) told CNN on Friday. “We’ve got a situation in Capitol Hill where the Senate Republican version of Trumpcare is floundering.”
The controversy spilled into Friday, when Scarborough said on his show that the White House told him to apologize to Trump for allegedly negative coverage. If he declined to do so, the “Morning Joe” host alleged, then The National Enquirer, a tabloid controlled by Trump ally David Pecker, would publish a story detailing his romantic involvement with Brzezinski, to whom he is now engaged.
Trump, however, rejected Scarborough’s account, tweeting that the “Morning Joe” host had asked him to kill the story, but he had refused.
Scarborough on Friday told The New York Times that Trump seemed overly dependent on their show’s coverage.
“He should be a lot more worried about NATO and building a relationship with Angela Merkel than he is with cable news hosts,” Scarborough said of the president.
Even after a week filled with controversy, the president made clear on Saturday that he is still intent on maintaining his feud with “Morning Joe” and some of the country’s major news networks.
Some in the White House have indicated Trump’s feud with the media only shores up his support from his base, most of whom automatically side with the president against foes often seen as biased or liberal.
Those feuds have become staples of Trump’s political career. Since declaring his candidacy for president a little over two years ago, he has routinely assailed what he calls unfair and negative news coverage and has deemed organizations that report on him and his administration critically to be “fake news.”
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