President Trumpâs relationship with the hosts of the MSNBC program âMorning Joeâ â which devolved into cringeworthy tweets about facelifts and the size of the presidentâs anatomy on Thursday â has a long and ugly history, careening from collegiality to hostility, followed by even deeper hostility.
In the earliest days of the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump was a semi-regular guest on the show, hosted by Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski. He seemed to accord it near-equal status to its direct and higher-rated cable-news competitor, âFox & Friends.â
The three of them appeared to be on friendly terms: Trump thanked Scarborough and Brzezinski for being âbelieversâ in, if not outright supporters of, his candidacy after he won the New Hampshire Republican primary last year. Scarborough, a former Republican Florida congressman, seemed to enjoy a particular rapport with Trump, addressing him by his first name on the air.
But that seemed to change last year when Scarborough dared to criticize Trump on the air and in print.
In an op-ed for The Washington Post in May last year, Scarborough questioned whether Trumpâs campaign had what it took to win: âUnless the Trump team figures out how to build a campaign operation that focuses more on fundamentals than flashy PR tricks, the next deal Donald Trump will be negotiating will be his return to The Apprentice,â he wrote.
Trump responded as he often does when criticized, hitting back harder.
He called Scarboroughâs show ârapidly fadingâ in one tweet, and in another remarked, âWow, I hear @MorningJoe has gone really hostile ever since I said I wonât do or watch the show anymore.They misrepresent my positions!â
Last August, their feud moved from nasty to nuclear.
After the âMorning Joeâ hosts criticized Trumpâs immigration proposals, Trump called the show âunwatchableâ in a tweet, adding â@morningmika is off the wall, a neurotic and not very bright mess!â
Scarborough, who is engaged to Brzezinski, came to her aid in, of all things, a music video. Backed by a country-music beat, he sang and semi-rapped about âa soft and flaccid manâ who was liable to grant amnesty to undocumented aliens despite his campaign promises to the contrary. The song went on to suggest that Trump suffered from âpsychiatric abnormalitiesâ and was âa sociopath [and] a psychopath.â
The reasons for Trumpâs latest pique at Scarborough and Brzezinski arenât clear, but in recent months Scarborough and Brzezinski have called Trump âa jackassâ and repeatedly questioned his mental health. Last week, Scarboroughâs releasd another music video, this one to promote his new rock album. It features images of Trump amid scenes of nuclear war, drug use and riots.
Trump on Thursday was more than happy to respond in kind.
In one of his usual early-morning tweet storms, Trump said, âI hear poorly rated @Morning_Joe speaks badly of me (donât watch anymore). Then how come low I.Q. Crazy Mika, along with Psycho Joe, came…to Mar-a-Lago 3 nights in a row around New Yearâs Eve and insisted on joining me. She was bleeding badly from a face-lift. I said no!â
Itâs unclear what exactly set Trump off Thursday morning. But the hosts had discussed a Washington Post story about a fake Time magazine cover of him that has hung in several of his golf clubs.
âNothing makes a man feel better than making a fake cover of a magazine about himself, lying every day and destroying the country,â Brzezinski said. âItâs a good feeling.â
The tweet was the first known instance of a president of the United States commenting on a womanâs supposed facelift. Brzezinski replied a few minutes later on Twitter with a photo of a box of Cheerios that carried the slogan, âMade for Little Handsâ– a reference to the presidentâs supposed anatomical deficits.
MSNBC sought to capture some of the high ground, if any is left, by releasing a statement tacitly defending Brzezinski: âItâs a sad day for America when the president spends his time bullying, lying and spewing petty personal attacks instead of doing his job.â