White House vigorously defends Trump’s sexist tweets about Mika Brzezinski

You’d think that the president ridiculing a female journalist’s looks and calling her crazy would be universally condemned.

In this Nov. 29, 2016 file photo Mika Brzezinski waits for an elevator in the lobby at Trump Tower, Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016, in New York. CREDIT:AP Photo/Evan Vucci
In this Nov. 29, 2016 file photo Mika Brzezinski waits for an elevator in the lobby at Trump Tower, Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016, in New York. CREDIT:AP Photo/Evan Vucci

On Thursday morning, the president of the United States tweeted this:

He was referencing Mika Brzezinski, co-host of the MSNBC morning show “Morning Joe,” who is engaged to her co-host, Joe Scarborough. Ten minutes before, White House digital director Dan Scavino Jr. tweeted that Brzezinski (“#DumbAsARockMika”) and Scarborough (“JealousJoe”) were “unhinged” because Trump “stopped returning their calls.”

The AP noted that roughly two hours prior to the tweets, “Brzezinski said on the show that ‘it’s not normal behavior’ for any leader to be tweeting about people’s appearances, bullying, lying, undermining managers and throwing people under the bus.”

Some swooped in quickly to defend and normalize Trump’s comments. Principle Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, asked about the tweets on Fox News, said:

Look, I don’t think that the president’s ever been someone who gets attacked and doesn’t push back. There have been an outrageous number of personal attacks, not just to him but to frankly everyone around him. People that have personally attacked me many times. This is a president who fights fire with fire and certainly will not be allowed to be bullied by liberal media and the liberal elites in Hollywood or anywhere else.

https://twitter.com/kylegriffin1/status/880440426708205568

The First Lady’s office, which does not usually get involved in such stories, defended the comments.

Before the election, Mrs. Trump pledged to lead a campaign against cyberbullying. Hours after giving CNN this statement in response to a question about the president’s tweet, the First Lady’s spokesperson said the quote was something Mrs. Trump has said in the past, and that it should not be assumed she stood by the tweets.

Sean Hannity pinned the blame on Scarborough:

On Wednesday night, Hannity attacked Scarborough and Brzezinski’s coverage of Trump, who is Hannity’s most famous viewer.

And Infowars founder Alex Jones, whose conspiracy theory website received White House press credentials last month, retweeted both tweets on Thursday morning.

Sen. Orrin Hatch told reporters in hallway interviews that he did not like the president’s tweets, but he appear to offer the president a “dipsy-doodle” mulligan:

Hatch’s press office tried to contextualize the “dipsy-doodle” quote on Twitter:

Last month, the White House reportedly considered a plan to have lawyers review tweets before Trump sends them out into the world, although aides told the Wall Street Journal that such a plan would be hard to put in place. With Thursday morning’s tweets, it seems the plan never came to fruition.

Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY) said that he was “concerned about that type of language,” and such tweets were not helpful for the Republicans’ stalled health care bill. The Senate is currently struggling over a GOP bill that would kick 22 million people of their health care plans and devastate Medicaid.

Other conservatives and GOP members of Congress were more critical:

Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Ben Sasse (R-NE), Susan Collins (R-ME), John McCain (R-AZ), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and James Lankford (R-NE), all key votes in the health care fight, were among those criticizing Trump.

In a shock to no one, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) said “obviously I don’t see that as an appropriate comment” when asked about the tweet, but then pivoted to the work Congress was doing on its immigration and health care priorities.

Reps. Lynne Jenkins (R-KS) and Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) criticized the president for the tweet, but each voted for the American Health Care Act, which if enacted, would kick 24 million Americans off their health care plans.

Other conservative commentators noted that tweets like these were not helpful for “message discipline,” or simply called Trump a “pig.”

Brzezinski, for her part, replied with a photo ridiculing Trump’s hand size:

https://twitter.com/morningmika/status/880415526371176448/photo/1

UPDATE: This post has been updated to reflect new comments and statements from the First Lady’s office and several conservative public figures.