President Trump came under fire Thursday for his tweet about Mika Brzezinski, one of the hosts of MSNBC's Morning Joe. Brzezinski and her co-host Joe Scarborough criticized Trump's Twitter habit in a Thursday morning segment, leading the president to describe them as "low I.Q. Crazy Mika" and "Psycho Joe" on Twitter. Trump didn't stop there, claiming that Brzezinski "was bleeding badly from a face-lift" during a visit to Mar-a-Lago. This remark has elicited backlash from media figures and lawmakers alike, but White House Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabeee Sanders defended Trump's attack on Brzezinski Thursday by framing him as the victim of bullying.
“I don’t think that the president has ever been someone who gets attacked and doesn’t push back,” Sanders told Fox News anchor Bill Hemmer. “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 within the media.”
Hemmer asked Sanders if such graphic remarks about Brzezinski were necessary, to which Sanders replied, “I think what’s necessary is to push back against unnecessary attacks on the president." Sanders also went to criticize Morning Joe for its treatment of Trump.
"I’ve seen far worse things come out of that show, again directed not just at the president, but everyone around him," Sanders told Hemmer. "Personal attacks. Mean, hateful attacks."
I heard poorly rated @Morning_Joe speaks badly of me (don't watch anymore). Then how come low I.Q. Crazy Mika, along with Psycho Joe, came..— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 29, 2017
...to Mar-a-Lago 3 nights in a row around New Year's Eve, and insisted on joining me. She was bleeding badly from a face-lift. I said no!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 29, 2017
Deputy WH Press Secretary VIGOROUSLY defends Trump's ad hominem attacks on Mika Brzezinski, saying he won't be bullied pic.twitter.com/Wcf8913PAQ— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) June 29, 2017
When Hemmer persisted in suggesting that Trump's attack on Brzezinski was far too personal, Sanders merely reiterated her argument about fighting fire with fire.
During his campaign and throughout his presidency, Trump has ceaselessly attacked what he has called "fake news." He has routinely described major networks and news organizations, such as CNN and the New York Times, as fake news, and has insisted that these organizations are lying about him and his presidency. That he would therefore attack a media figure like Brzezinski after she criticized him is therefore unsurprising, but these latest tweets echo the explicitly sexist remarks Trump previously made about Megyn Kelly and Rosie O'Donnell.
If you can't stifle the press, then you attack them personally. Today's tweets from Donald Trump are unpresidential and warrant an apology.— Ed Markey (@SenMarkey) June 29, 2017
This is not okay. As a female in politics I am often criticized for my looks. We should be working to empower women. https://t.co/sV6WDE0EUD— Lynn Jenkins (@RepLynnJenkins) June 29, 2017
In her interview with Hemmer, Sanders tried to describe Trump as someone who "will not be allowed to be bullied by liberal media." In Sanders' view, Trump is a victim of media figures like Brzezinski and Scarborough who would dare to criticize him.
In reality, it is the responsibility of news organizations to hold Trump accountable, and his administration's insistence on painting the media as the "enemy of the American people" is both dangerous and inaccurate.