Donald Trump’s proclivity for mean-spirited one-liners is well documented through conventional and social media alike, and the blunt nature of his critique often leaves little doubt as to his true sentiments. But every so often, he lets loose with a crack that yields a bit of head scratching in its wake, as was the case on Sunday morning when he spoke to NBC’s Chuck Todd on Meet the Press.
Asked by Todd about his history of disparaging comments directed at Fox News reporter Megyn Kelly, Donald Trump defended his handling of the situation. He maintained that Kelly’s question about his treatment of women was appropriate, noting that he has treated other journalists – including Chuck Todd himself – with equal or greater contempt. Business Insider published excerpts from their subsequent exchange.
“[I]f you gave me that question, I’d hit you the same way. I mean, you are the perfect one to ask that question — you have been, you know, under fire from me for a long time and you are far from a woman. That I can tell you.”
Taken somewhat by surprise at Trump’s unusual nod to his masculinity, NBC News Political Director Chuck Todd laughed and tried to get things back on track.
“Well, that is a fact,” Todd replied.
Donald Trump continued by noting that he does have respect for certain female journalists, calling attention to NBC’s Andrea Mitchell, who was sitting off camera during the segment.
“There’s one sitting right over there in the beautiful red dress,” Trump said to Todd. “You see that woman over there? I have great respect for that woman over there…. I have great respect for that woman. And I don’t know that she knows I’m talking about her. I’m talking about you. I would never do that to you…. I am referring to Andrea.”
Todd’s initial line of questioning stemmed from a Thursday item in the Washington Post chronicling Donald Trump’s frequent use of insults in his brushes with the media. Writer Paul Farhi noted Trump’s particular tendency to direct harsh language towards female reporters, including pundits S.E. Cupp and Ana Navaro, who he once referred to as “two of the dumbest people in politics.” The piece also included a comment by an unnamed female reporter who noted that the candidate’s treatment of journalists makes his rallies feel “scary.”
To be sure, Donald Trump has skewered certain male journalists with a good deal of panache as well. In November, Donald Trump openly mocked Serge Kovaleski of the New York Times at a campaign rally. Kovaleski suffers a condition that causes the atrophy and limited movement of his arms A Politico account of the incident reported that Trump told the crowd “you ought to see the poor guy” before embarking upon a physical impersonation of the reporter that included “gyrating his arms wildly and imitating the unusual angle at which Kovaleski’s hand sometimes rests.” After a backlash of criticism ensued, Donald Trump later denied knowing anything about Kovaleski’s condition, a claim which was refuted by the New York Times and Kovalseki himself.
Of course, a healthy amount of Donald Trump’s vitriol is typically reserved for his political foils but there have been some signs that technique is now wearing thin with Republican voters. During the most recent Republican debate, Trump was booed when he mixed things up with Jeb Bush and the crowd continued its turn against Trump when he declared that the audience was largely comprised of GOP donors and people affiliated with special interests. Nevertheless, Donald Trump remains heavily favored to win the next two Republican primaries, which will occur in New Hampshire and South Carolina, respectively.
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