On Thursday, President Trump tweeted insults about MSNBC's Morning Joe co-hosts Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough after they criticized his Twitter habits on the show. Trump has since faced backlash from journalists and lawmakers across the political spectrum, particularly for a graphic remark about Brzezinski "bleeding badly from a face-lift." On Friday morning, Brzezinski and Scarborough responded to Trump's Twitter attack on MSNBC, as well as in an op-ed for The Washington Post.
In his tweets on Thursday, Trump described Brzezinski and Scarborough as "low I.Q. Crazy Mika" and "Psycho Joe," alleged that the two of them had insisted on joining him at Mar-a-Lago around New Year's Eve, and claimed that Brzezinski had been "bleeding badly from a face-lift." It was this last comment in particular that drew a significant amount of backlash; critics said it echoed past instances where Trump had mocked women's looks.
Brzezinski and Scarborough were supposed to leave on vacation Thursday afternoon, but they instead returned to Morning Joe on Friday to discuss and respond to Trump's attack.
“I’m fine,” Brzezinski assured the rest of the panel. “My family brought me up really tough. This is absolutely nothing for me personally. But I’m very concerned as to what this once again reveals about the president of the United States.”
Scarborough echoed Brzezinski, saying that both of them had received many concerned messages and calls.
“We’re OK," Scarborough said. "The country is not.”
However, he did express concern about how Trump talked about and treated women in particular, arguing that the president is "so much more vicious with women." Scarborough went on to describe a call he had once received from a prominent congressman, who told him that Trump had been ranting about Morning Joe and describing Brzezinski having "blood coming out of her ears, out of her eyes" — comments similar to those Trump made about Megyn Kelly during the election cycle.
"He attacks women because he fears women," Scarborough added, explaining that Trump always goes after Brzezinski even if Scarborough is the one criticizing him.
Trump tweeted on Friday morning that he "watched low rated 'Morning Joe' for first time in long time" and claimed that the co-hosts were lying about him.
In their Washington Post op-ed, Scarborough and Brzezinski leveled a serious charge against the president that contradicted his supposed dismissal of their show.
"This year, top White House staff members warned that the National Enquirer was planning to publish a negative article about us unless we begged the president to have the story spiked," Scarborough and Brzezinski wrote. "We ignored their desperate pleas."
On Friday's segment, MSNBC’s Donnie Deutsch told Brzezinski and Scarborough that the administration's threat to publish a negative story about the co-hosts constituted blackmail. In his Friday morning tweet, Trump denied it happened, calling it "FAKE NEWS."
Brzezinski and Scarborough did not stop there in their response to Trump. In their op-ed, they contradicted his claims that they had insisted on joining him at Mar-a-Lago, and delivered a scathing critique of the president's treatment of women:
Putting aside Mr. Trump’s never-ending obsession with women’s blood, Mika and her face were perfectly intact, as pictures from that night reveal. ... More significant is Mr. Trump’s continued mistreatment of women. It is disturbing that the president of the United States keeps up his unrelenting assault on women. 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.
Brzezinski and Scarborough concluded their op-ed by recalling the many years they had known Trump, mentioning that they had "fond memories" of their friendship with him. However, they wrote, this would not stop them from criticizing the president's actions, nor from calling out his "flurry of falsehoods."
The Morning Joe co-hosts have earned Trump's ire for the greater part of the past year, but their statements about his treatment of women, including of Brzezinski herself, add to the criticism of the president that has been reignited in light of his latest Twitter tirade.