Rep. Marsha Blackburn on Friday criticized President Trump’s tweets last week making fun of MSNBC hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski.
“This week’s inappropriate and pointless tweets from the President are a stark example of just what has gone wrong in our political discourse today,” Blackburn wrote in a column published on her website. “Robust yet civil debate over policy disagreements have taken a back seat to thin-skin and knee-jerk reactions to hyper-partisan comments and, unfortunately, unfounded character attacks.”
In one of Trump’s two tweets Thursday about the Morning Joe hosts, the president referred to Scarborough as “Psycho Joe” and Brzezinski as “low I.Q. Crazy Mika.” In another, he claimed Brzezinski “was bleeding badly from a face-lift” when she visited Mar-a-Lago, his Florida resort, around New Year’s Eve.
The talk show hosts have routinely attacked Trump in harsh and demeaning ways, and some Trump supporters were glad to see the president hit back. But others, including Blackburn, thought it was in poor taste.
The Republican representative for Tennessee’s 7th congressional district wrote:
On the day Rep. Steve Scalise and others were shot, seemingly for nothing other than being Republican, not only were we reminded of the consequences of a collapse in civil discourse, but many, including me, renewed our commitment to unity and called for a return to the respectful and civil disagreements that have shaped debate and the political landscape since the birth of our great nation. Our nation and the cause of freedom have been well served by robust and spirited debate.
In this era of 24/7 worldwide news, the President of the United States represents each and every one of us on the world stage. Globally, the President is America, and in this day and age, actions are seen by more and more people and scrutinized more and more intensely around the world. We are right to expect a higher level of civility, graciousness, and diplomacy from our President. We expect the individual who holds the office and the title to rise above the hubris and noise of the day.
While the President is human, and fallible like the rest of us, this current trend needs to stop. This week’s tweets were a step way too far, regardless of what personal exchanges or insults had been hurled. From health care to immigration to trade to infrastructure to terrorism, there are far too many pressing issues facing this country for petty squabbles to be on the President’s radar. I respectfully request, Mr. President, that you turn your focus to the issues we are working on in Congress – the positive solutions we are trying to get to your desk to make America great again. You are delivering on your promises, as are we. Let’s talk more about those and less about one another. The American people would be grateful.
No matter who you are – President of the United States, a cable news anchor, plumber, lawyer, welder, doctor – bombast and ratings should not rank higher than our shared desire to live freely in this country alongside our fellow Americans. We are blessed to live in a country where we are free to express our opinions, no matter how inflammatory or hyperbolic. As a legislator, I work daily to protect those freedoms. But we ought also to remember that we are all a part of a greater humanity, and that civility in our interactions – both personal and digital – is not only proper, but fundamental to a respectful and prosperous society.
Fox News host Howard Kurtz, whose show Media Buzz critiques the press, said coverage of Trump’s Thursday tweets “has been pretty one-sided.”
“What’s downplayed, minimized, sometimes ignored is that just about every day, Joe and Mika go on the air and attack Donald Trump in often very harshly personal terms,” Kurtz said.
Kurtz said that few people are “defending the substance of his tweet because it was so personal against a woman,” but said the media should bring up the MSNBC duo’s insults, including attacks on Trump’s mental heath.
Trump used Twitter again on Saturday morning to slam the MSNBC pair and on Sunday tweeted a WWE video clip that was edited to show the president beating up a man with a CNN logo on his face. Trump has accused CNN of being “fake news.” Three CNN journalists resigned last Monday after the network retracted and apologized for a story about a Trump ally.