Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - DAVID BAUDER

calls Trump tweets ‘sad for coun­try.’

NEW YORK — Morn­ing Joe hosts Joe Scar­bor­ough and Mika Brzezin­ski said Fri­day that Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump lied about their De­cem­ber en­counter in a tweet and that his “un­healthy ob­ses­sion” with their pro­gram doesn’t serve his men­tal health or the coun­try well.

The two MSNBC per­son­al­i­ties post­poned a va­ca­tion in or­der to re­spond to Trump’s Thurs­day tweet, which drew broad con­dem­na­tion be­cause he called Brzezin­ski “crazy” and said she was “bleed­ing badly from a face-lift” when he saw them at his Florida es­tate late last year.

“It’s been fas­ci­nat­ing and fright­en­ing and re­ally sad for our coun­try,” Brzezin­ski said on their pro­gram about the tweets.

“We’re OK,” said Scar­bor­ough, her co-host and fi­ance. “The coun­try’s not.”

Trump tweeted Fri­day that he watched Morn­ing Joe for the first time in a long time. “Bad show,” he wrote.

The hosts, who also co-by­lined a col­umn that was posted on The Wash­ing­ton Post’s web­site Fri­day, said they had known Trump for more than a decade and have “fond mem­o­ries” of their re­la­tion­ship, but that he’s changed in the past two years. They were at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago es­tate in Florida shortly be­fore the New Year in De­cem­ber to en­cour­age Trump to give them an in­ter­view.

Brzezin­ski said she’s alarmed at how the pres­i­dent deals with women who dis­agree with him. She said she be­lieves that her teas­ing about a Post story on fake Time mag­a­zine cov­ers that fea­ture Trump’s face and hang at his golf fa­cil­i­ties is what pre­cip­i­tated the lat­est Twit­ter at­tack.

“It is un­be­liev­ably alarm­ing that this pres­i­dent is so eas­ily played, he is eas­ily played by a cable news host,” she said. “What does that say to our al­lies? What does that say to our en­e­mies?”

They said Trump was ly­ing about Brzezin­ski hav­ing a face-lift, al­though “she did have a lit­tle skin un­der her chin tweaked.”

Scar­bor­ough said that the Na­tional En­quirer had been work­ing on a story about him and Brzezin­ski and that he was told by White House aides that if he called Trump and apol­o­gized for his show’s cov­er­age, the story would go away. He said he re­fused, and the story was pub­lished.

Trump, in his Fri­day tweet, di­rectly con­tra­dicted that claim. “He called me to stop a Na­tional En­quirer ar­ti­cle,” Trump wrote. “I said no!”

A re­cent New Yorker mag­a­zine ar­ti­cle de­tailed a close re­la­tion­ship be­tween Trump and David Pecker, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the En­quirer’s par­ent com­pany, and how the su­per­mar­ket tabloid has lauded Trump and printed dam­ag­ing ar­ti­cles about his po­lit­i­cal op­po­nents.

Morn­ing Joe and Trump have had a tor­tured re­la­tion­ship. The hosts were crit­i­cized by some for be­ing too close to Trump dur­ing the cam­paign and giv­ing his can­di­dacy an early boost, but have turned sharply against him. Brzezin­ski in re­cent weeks has won­dered whether Trump is men­tally ill and said the coun­try un­der his pres­i­dency “does feel like a de­vel­op­ing dic­ta­tor­ship.”

The hosts said they’ve no­ticed a change in Trump’s be­hav­ior over the past few years that left them nei­ther shocked nor in­sulted by the Thurs­day tweet.

“The guy who is in the White House now is not the guy we know,” Scar­bor­ough said.

In tele­vi­sion in­ter­views Fri­day, Kellyanne Con­way, a se­nior ad­viser to Trump, sent con­flict­ing mes­sages about whether Trump was jus­ti­fied in his Thurs­day tweet. She said he had the right to fight back when at­tacked by crit­ics. But when pressed on ABC’s Good Morn­ing Amer­ica, she said: “I didn’t say I en­dorsed his at­tacks; I never said that. Bot­tom line, I en­dorse his abil­ity to con­nect on so­cial me­dia with Amer­i­cans.”

In­for­ma­tion for this ar­ti­cle was con­trib­uted by Ken­neth Thomas of The As­so­ci­ated Press.



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