Is civility dead in America? Not yet, but on Thursday President Trump punched it on the nose — again. He did it with a crude, personal attack of two tweets directed at a pair of newscasters.
What had attracted the president’s ire? MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” newscasters had recently, and unerringly, criticized him.
This is what he tweeted about co-hosts Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough, who were once considered friendly toward Candidate Trump:
“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...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!”
A high school mean girl couldn’t have crafted a better put-down of an enemy.
The tweet also reveals more of President Trump’s bad habit of insulting women in crude and personal terms — Rosie O’Donnell, Carly Fiorina, Megyn Kelly, Heidi Cruz. Like men, women in the public eye are not immune to public criticism. However, the president’s insults are vile, attacking the very “woman-ness” of his targets.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the president is “mercilessly” insulted by the media: “When you attack the president, he will attack you back.” But the Oval Office isn’t a boxing ring. And Trump’s ethos of ripping into his opponents not only continues to damage him — his approval rating is not quite scraping the bottom of the barrel — but it also has given permission to too many aggrieved Americans to follow his lead, from snatching off Muslim women’s hijabs to shooting congressional lawmakers. And he remains mum in the face of this frightening chaos.
Much of the media are giving Trump a difficult time, and with good reason. Every president has the right to push through his agenda. But when that agenda includes subverting the very underpinnings our democratic processes, from aides in too deep with the Russians to way overblown allegations of voter fraud — the better to suppress his enemies’ access to the ballot box — he should expect nothing less from the responsible media.
Granted, the war between Trump and the media is a mano-a-mano, day-to-day, 24-hour battle. Has the president treated the media with disdain and disrespect? Absolutely. CNN reports that the president has written 85 negatives tweets against the media.
Are some constantly playing “gotcha” with the president, criticizing his every move? Yes, sometimes providing more heat than light, especially on substantive issues. “Covfefe?” Come on.
And when media outlets get it wrong, it allows this administration to unfairly smear all the others. Three CNN staffers recently resigned after they failed to follow proper protocols before releasing a shaky story on a Trump ally’s ties to a Russian investment fund.
Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin filed a lawsuit against the New York Times for an editorial that compared the recent shooting of Republican congressman in a baseball field to that of Gabby Giffords in 2011 to somehow tie blame to Palin.
The newspaper issued a correction, and the lawsuit will likely fade, but it’s an indication of how high passions are running.
As for the uncivil president, who is intent on keeping his promises, his way is no way to drain the swamp.