JONATHAN ERNST / REUTERS
By CHRISTOPHER MELE
JUNE 30, 2017
Mika Brzezinski, a co-host of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” said on Friday morning that President Trump’s tweets targeting her betrayed “a fragile, childlike ego” that was a profound concern.
Ms. Brzezinski said she believed the tweets were in response to a segment on the show that addressed fake Time magazine covers that Mr. Trump had made up and displayed at his country clubs.
She said she knew he would be “tweaked” by the joking but that it was “unbelievably alarming that this president is so easily played.”
Her co-host, Joe Scarborough, said: “We’re O.K. The country’s not.”
In a pair of tweets on Thursday, the president described Ms. Brzezinski as “low I.Q. Crazy Mika” and claimed that she had been “bleeding badly from a face-lift” during a social gathering at Mr. Trump’s resort in Florida around New Year’s Eve.
In an op-ed in The Washington Post on Friday, Ms. Brzezinski and Ms. Scarborough said Mr. Trump’s tweets represented a “continued mistreatment of women.”
“It is disturbing that the president of the United States keeps up his unrelenting assault on women,” they wrote. “From his menstruation musings about Megyn Kelly, to his fat-shaming treatment of a former Miss Universe, to his braggadocio claims about grabbing women’s genitalia, the 45th president is setting the poorest of standards for our children.”
The White House did not explain what had prompted Mr. Trump’s outburst, but a spokeswoman said Ms. Brzezinski deserved a rebuke because of her show’s harsh stance on Mr. Trump.
On Friday morning, Ms. Brzezinski and Mr. Scarborough, who are engaged to be married, focused the discussion on what they said was the president’s “vicious” attacks on women.
“I’m concerned about the messages that are being sent by this president,” Mr. Scarborough said. “You have women who are being constantly degraded.”
Donny Deutsch, a panelist on “Morning Joe,” on Friday morning called Mr. Trump a “vulgar pig.”
In their op-ed, Ms. Brzezinski and Mr. Scarborough disputed the details of Mr. Trump’s tweets.
His claim that Ms. Brzezinski was bleeding from a face-lift was “a lie,” they wrote, adding: “Mr. Trump claims that we asked to join him at Mar-a-Lago three nights in a row. That is false. He also claimed that he refused to see us. That is laughable.”
They wrote: “And though it is no one’s business, the president’s petulant personal attack against yet another woman’s looks compels us to report that Mika has never had a face-lift. If she had, it would be evident to anyone watching ‘Morning Joe’ on their high-definition TV.”
Ms. Brzezinski did have a “little skin under her chin tweaked,” but it was not a secret, they wrote.
The co-hosts were scheduled to be on vacation on Friday but delayed their plans to appear on the show to respond to the president’s tweets.
Until recently, the president had a friendly relationship with the hosts, who were criticized during the campaign for their closeness to the candidate.
In recent months, however, the pair have excoriated Mr. Trump on the air, denouncing his behavior and questioning his mental health — criticisms the president views as a personal betrayal, according to a senior administration official.
Last month, Ms. Brzezinski and Mr. Scarborough told Vanity Fair that the president had offered to officiate at their wedding and host it at the White House or Mar-a-Lago. (Ms. Brzezinski said her answer to that was, “If it weren’t Trump, it might be something to think about.”)
Mr. Trump’s invective threatened to further erode his support among Republican women and independents, both among voters and on Capitol Hill, where he needs negotiating leverage for the stalled Senate health care bill.
The tweets ended five months of relative silence from the president on the volatile subject of gender, reintroducing a political vulnerability: his history of demeaning women for their age, appearance and mental capacity.
A spokeswoman for the president, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, on Thursday urged the news media to move on. She argued during the White House briefing that Mr. Trump was “fighting fire with fire” by attacking a longtime critic.
A slew of Republicans criticized the president’s comments.
Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska tweeted: “Stop it! The presidential platform should be used for more than bringing people down.”
Senator Ben Sasse, a Nebraska Republican who opposed Mr. Trump’s nomination during the presidential primaries, also implored him to stop, writing on Twitterthat making such comments “isn’t normal and it’s beneath the dignity of your office.”