US President Donald Trump takes Twitter trolling to a new level, calling MSNBC TV hosts "psycho" and "low IQ crazy." His comments drew fire from Democrats and Republicans, but the White House maintains Trump did not go "too far."
A Trump Twitter spat Thursday turned eye-popping even for a president who's delivered his fair share of controversial tweets.
US President Donald Trump took aim at the MSNBC program Morning Joe TV hosts and real-life couple Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski.
He assailed Brzezinski in highly personal terms, calling her "crazy" in a Twitter attack that drew strong criticism, including from fellow Republicans.
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
Trump, who often decries what he calls "fake news" in the American media and who this week attacked CNN, the New York Times and the Washington Post, took fierce aim at the Morning Joe hosts.
The Republican president called Brzezinski, a journalist and daughter of former White House national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, "low IQ Crazy Mika" and said she was "bleeding badly from a face-lift" when she visited one of his properties around New Year's Eve.
He referred to former Republican US congressman Scarborough as "Psycho Joe."
Trump is known for his prolific Twitter habit, which includes mocking attacks on critics and rivals, but his tweets on Thursday drew a particularly strong response.
Mika fired right back with a physical jab of her own – tweeting a picture of the side of a Cheerios' box, a child's arm outstretched with the words, "Made for Little Hands", seizing upon the long-running observation that many before her have turned into a punchline at the president's expense.
The Morning Joe program aired live telephone interviews with Trump during the 2016 presidential race, but its hosts have turned increasingly critical of him since he took office in January.
On Thursday morning's show, Brzezinski excoriated the Trump administration and said its officials should not act "lobotomised" because they are so scared of the president.
Comcast Corp owns NBCUniversal, MSNBC's parent company.
Trump's highly personal put-down was evidently prompted by his social media director Dan Scavino, who 30 minutes earlier posted:
"It's a sad day for America when the president spends his time bullying, lying and spewing petty personal attacks instead of doing his job," MSNBC's communications office said on Twitter.
Trump is taking heat from both sides of the aisle. Republican lawmakers and others sharply rebuked Trump.
Conservative blogger Erick Erickson tweeted:
My God, someone go smash his phone. Please.— Erick Erickson (@EWErickson) June 29, 2017
The tweets "represents what is wrong with American politics, not the greatness of America," Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said.
Another Republican senator, Ben Sasse, called Trump's remarks "beneath the dignity of your office."
Republican House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan said of Trump's tweets: "I don't see that as an appropriate comment."
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called Trump's words "beneath the dignity of the president of the United States."
Pelosi said, "I think it's so blatantly sexist I don't even know that there's a question about it. But sad to say I am still the highest-ranking woman,"
Pelosi added, "I thought that was all going to be resolved in November, instead, we have a person in the White House who not only doesn't happen to be a woman but happens to disrespect women. That's too bad."
The White House rushed to the president's defence, with deputy press secretary Sarah Sanders telling reporters the president did not go too far with his tweets.
"I mean, 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," Sanders said.
"I think the American people elected somebody who's tough, who's smart, and who's a fighter, and that's Donald Trump. And I don't think that it's a surprise to anybody that he fights fire with fire. The things that this show has called him, and not just him, but numerous members of his staff, including myself, and many others are very deeply personal."