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GOP Lawmakers Denounce Trump's Tweets Attacking 'Morning Joe' Hosts


The political world has gotten used to daily tweet storms from President Trump, but a vicious attack today on two cable personalities is getting an intense reaction. NPR White House correspondent Tamara Keith reports.

TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: Just before 8 o'clock this morning, President Trump posted a mean tweet in two parts about the hosts of the MSNBC morning chat show "Morning Joe," Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski. Quote, "I heard poorly rated "Morning Joe" speaks badly of me - don't watch anymore. Then how come low-IQ crazy Mika along with psycho Joe came to Mara-a-Lago three nights in a row around New Year's Eve and insisted on joining me? She was bleeding badly from a facelift. I said no - exclamation point."

There's no way of knowing what exactly prompted the tweets. But on "Morning Joe" today, Brzezinski had some fun with The Washington Post story about a fake Time magazine cover displayed at numerous Trump properties with Trump, grim-faced, looking at the camera, hands folded under his arms.


MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Oh, well, he's covering his hands here because they're teensy.

KEITH: Of late, this has been pretty standard banter on "Morning Joe."


BRZEZINSKI: Nothing makes a man feel better than making a fake cover of a magazine about himself, lying every day and destroying the country.

KEITH: This afternoon, White House Spokeswoman Sarah Sanders defended the president and his tweets from the podium in the press briefing room.


SARAH SANDERS: I think that the president has been attacked mercilessly on personal accounts by members on that program. And I think he's been very clear that when he gets attacked, he's going to hit back. I think the American people elected somebody who's tough, who's smart and who's a fighter. And that's Donald Trump.

KEITH: During much of the campaign, Trump was a regular guest on "Morning Joe," doing extended interviews often by phone. Back in September of 2015, Trump called into the show and talked about his tactic of counterpunching on Twitter.


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: You know, you're able to fight back. In the old days, you didn't have that. What would you do, call a press conference to announce that somebody lost control of his mind on television last night and made a total fool out of himself? You couldn't do that. But with Twitter, you can - you know, with one tweet, 140 characters, you can knock somebody out. So it's pretty cool.


KEITH: Trump may think it's pretty cool, but a recent NPR-PBS NewsHour-Marist poll found 69 percent of Americans say Trump's use of Twitter is reckless and distracting, and that includes 42 percent of Republicans. Members of Congress who had been focused on their legislative agenda instead found themselves condemning the president's tweets. Here's House Speaker Paul Ryan.


PAUL RYAN: Obviously I don't see that as an appropriate comment. I think - look; what we're trying to do around here is improve the tone and the civility of the debates. And this obviously doesn't help do that.

KEITH: Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski, a Republican who could be a key vote on the health care bill, tweeted back at the president, saying stop it; the presidential platform should be used for more than bringing people down. She also asked @POTUS, do you want to be remembered for your tweets or your accomplishments? All of the president's tweets will be saved in the National Archives. A common refrain in the criticism from both sides of the aisle was that the tweets are below the dignity of the president's office. Nancy Pelosi is the Democratic leader in the House.


NANCY PELOSI: It's really sad, though. It's the president of the United States.

KEITH: And this is hardly the first time Trump has attacked women who make their living delivering news on cable television.


TRUMP: She starts asking me all sorts of ridiculous questions. And you know, you could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever.

KEITH: That was Trump during the campaign going after former Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly. There was outrage then, too. Tamara Keith, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Tamara Keith has been a White House correspondent for NPR since 2014 and co-hosts the NPR Politics Podcast, the top political news podcast in America. Keith has chronicled the Trump administration from day one, putting this unorthodox presidency in context for NPR listeners, from early morning tweets to executive orders and investigations. She covered the final two years of the Obama presidency, and during the 2016 presidential campaign she was assigned to cover Hillary Clinton. In 2018, Keith was elected to serve on the board of the White House Correspondents' Association.