President Donald Trump on Thursday attacked MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski, with the White House subsequently saying that Trump has the right to “push back” against his critics. So what, exactly, ocurred on Morning Joe today that set Trump off and inspired him to publicly call Brzezinski stupid and accuse her of getting a face-lift?
One segment that may have led to Trump’s tweets came when Morning Joe‘s panel was discussing the recent story that President Trump had put up fake TIME Magazine covers of himself at his golf clubs. Mika Brzezinski said, “Nothing makes a man feel better than making a fake cover of a magazine about himself, lying every day and destroying the country.”
Later in that same segment, it was pointed out that Trump’s hands were mostly obscured in the TIME Magazine cover. Brzezinski then said, “He’s covering his hands here because they’re teensy.”
In another segment on the show, Mika Brzezinski suggested that Trump is out of his mind, saying that if someone in a position of power at a private company acted the way Trump does, they would be fired.
“Let’s say someone came into NBC and took over NBC, and started tweeting wildly about people’s appearances, bullying people, talking about people in the competition, lying every day, undermining his managers, throwing them under the [bus] — that person would be thrown out,” Brzezinski said, according to Raw Story. “It’s just not normal behavior. In fact, there would be concerns that the person who runs the company is out of his mind.”
Brzezinski also said that Trump’s staffers seem like they’re “lobotomized” because they’re too scared to stand up to the president.
It’s unclear whether Trump was actually watching Morning Joe today or whether he simply heard about the comments from his staff. It may have been White House Director of Social Media and Assistant to the President Dan Scavino who told Trump about Brzezinski’s statements. After all, Scavino tweeted about Morning Joe 40 minutes before Trump did, calling Brzezinski “dumb as a rock.”
But nothing Mika Brzezinski said today was really all that different from comments she has made on other recent shows. In fact, earlier this week, Brzezinski said that Trump seemed to be leading the United States down the path to dictatorship. The president did not respond to this.
“It does feel like a developing dictatorship,” Brzezinski said, according to the Washington Examiner. “…[Y]ou can do some work reading history, and reading books about how dictatorships happen, the development of very negative forces taking over. And what you are seeing is either this, happening right now, or someone who’s not well. There’s very few options.”
Comments made from the White House on Thursday morning suggested that Trump may not have been responding to anything specific, with White House officials instead pointing to a wide variety of personal attacks coming from the Morning Joe anchors over a long period of time.
Principal Deputy White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said on Fox News, “I don’t think that the president’s ever been someone who gets attacked and doesn’t push back…I mean the outrageous attacks that take place on that show day in and day out, not just at the president, and not against his policies, not against things that he’s pushing, but they’re personal, and they’re not just directed at him, but again everyone around him.”
Later, during the White House Press Briefing, Sanders said that Trump has been “attacked mercilessly” on Morning Joe and that he has a tendency to fight back. She did not point to any specific comments that Trump was upset about
“The American people elected somebody who’s tough, who is smart and who is a fighter,” Sanders said. “It’s Donald Trump. And I don’t think it’s a surprise to anybody that he fights fire with fire.”
The New York Times reports that Trump has been upset about Morning Joe‘s coverage of him for weeks now, so it sounds like the June 29th show was just the last straw.
“The president has fumed for weeks about his coverage on ‘Morning Joe,’ where Mr. Scarborough and Ms. Brzezinski have been increasingly blistering in their commentary about the Trump administration,” The New York Times reports. “They have openly questioned Mr. Trump’s mental state, comments that particularly upset the president, according to a senior administration official.”
The Times goes on to report that Trump “views the ‘Morning Joe’ criticism as a personal betrayal.”