Trump starts his day with some slut-shaming

Not only that, but his accusation that Alicia Machado starred in a “sex tape” is unproven.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2016, in Bedford, N.H. CREDIT: AP Photo/John Locher
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2016, in Bedford, N.H. CREDIT: AP Photo/John Locher

On both Wednesday and Thursday, the Trump campaign distributed talking points to surrogates directing them to speak negatively about former Miss Universe Alicia Machado, who Hillary Clinton brought up during Monday night’s debate as an example of how Trump has treated women poorly.

Friday morning, Trump took matters into his own hands.

In a string of tweets published between 5:15 and 5:30 a.m. ET, Trump smeared Machado as “disgusting,” and encouraged people who think otherwise to “check out sex tape.”

Those tweets would be strange enough if they were accurate, but they don’t even rise to that standard. As the Daily Beast reported, “The alleged ‘sex tape’ Trump urged followers to ‘check out’ is non-explicit footage from a Spanish reality-TV show in which the Venezuelan model supposedly had sex with a fellow participant.” A separate Daily Beast report notes that “there does not appear to be any evidence suggesting the existence of professionally made pornography starring Machado.”

The unproven notion that Machado is a porn star was pushed this week by the Infowars website run by conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. In a post published Wednesday, InfoWars called Machado “literally a porn star.” Their evidence? A link to a screengrab of a porn video featuring a woman who looks vaguely like Machado.

Late last month, Jones revealed that he’s been advising Trump.

Earlier this week, Machado told reporters that watching the political rise of Trump — who called her “Miss Piggy,” “Miss Housekeeping,” and an “eating machine” after her Miss Universe win in 1996 — is like “a bad dream.”

During an appearance on Fox News the morning following the debate, Trump said Machado’s weight gain after his Miss Universe win was a “real problem” for the Miss Universe pageant. During another Fox News appearance with Bill O’Reilly the next evening, he praised himself for doing the right thing by saving Machado’s job after she “put on so much weight.”

On Wednesday, Trump surrogate Newt Gingrich defended Trump’s handling of the matter, telling a room full of people at a Log Cabin Republicans event that “you’re not supposed to gain 60 pounds during the year that you’re Miss Universe.”

Machado — who has spoken openly about relapsing into bulimia after Trump publicly shamed her — is from Venezuela, but recently become a U.S. citizen. In an interview with ThinkProgress in June, she said she became motivated to do so after Trump became the Republican Party’s presumptive presidential nominee.

“It was like a great monster reappearing in my life,” Machado said. “In the beginning, I thought there was no way this loco will ever win. But after the primaries I realized I need to vote. I can’t invite my community to step up if I won’t do it myself.”

UPDATE: Machado has responded to Trump’s smears. In an Instagram post written in Spanish, she says, “The Republican candidate and his campaign team are again generating attacks, insults and trying to revive slanders and false accusations about my life. All this in order to intimidate, humiliate me and throw me off balance again.”

“Through his campaign of hate, the Republican candidate insists on discrediting and demoralizing women, which is definitely one of his most terrifying characteristics,” she adds. “I will continue standing up and sharing my story, my absolute support for Mrs. Clinton in the name of women, my sisters, aunts, grandmothers, cousins, friends and the feminist community.”

Meanwhile, a LawNewz post makes a case that Trump’s sex tape smear could actually open him up to a defamation lawsuit.

“The most actionable statement, from a defamation standpoint, is the allegation that Machado was in a sex tape. It’s clearly a statement of purported fact, and was clearly made publicly,” Elura Nanos writes. “As a model and actress, Machado could easily suffer damage to her reputation and resulting financial consequences from the publicizing of that statement.”

Machado’s entire Instagram post is below (the above translation comes courtesy of NBC and Law Newz):

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