President Donald Trump escalated his assault on the press this week. While his ongoing squabble with CNN’s Jim Acosta made the most noise, Trump also singled out three black female reporters for criticism and derision out of a nearly all-white press corps.
First, Trump berated PBS’ Yamiche Alcindor on Thursday during his off-the-rails post-midterm press conference that also featured his well-publicized fight with Acosta.
Trump scolded Alcindor for asking what he called a “racist question” when she inquired into how he felt about white nationalists who have been emboldened by his rhetoric.
“To say that what you said is so insulting to me,” Trump said without answering the question. “It’s a very terrible thing that you said.”
— ABC News (@ABC) November 7, 2018
Alcindor, buoyed by an outpouring of support from her colleagues, addressed the exchange Wednesday on MSNBC.
“I think the President, his anger was boiling over because of a lot of things,” Alcindor said on “Hardball” with Chris Matthews. “At one point during the press conference he was literally pacing back and forth. I thought he might walk off.”
“I think some people see this as the President attacking a woman of color,” she continued. “Of course I’m a black woman. He was also attacking April Ryan, telling her to sit down. I’m not sure the President was singling out people because of their race. But the President was very obviously upset with the reporting we were trying to do there.”
Trump also whacked American Urban Radio Network’s April Ryan, a frequent sparring partner of White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, twice in two days.
During the contentious press conference on Wednesday, he told Ryan to “sit down” and refused to answer her question.
Then, during a scrum outside of the White House on Friday, he singled her out once again.
— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) November 9, 2018
“You talk about someone that’s a loser,” Trump said of Ryan, unprompted. “She doesn’t know what the hell she’s doing. She gets publicity and then she gets a pay raise and a contract with CNN. But she’s very nasty and she shouldn’t be.”
Ryan reacted on CNN.
“I have been there for 21 years, and I have covered three Presidents prior to this,” she said on CNN of her tenure in the White House press corps. “And I have had a great working relationship with all three, from Bill Clinton to George W. Bush to Barack Hussein Obama — and now Donald John Trump, something is awry.”
“Sometimes we asked questions that they did not like, and maybe there was a bit of retaliation or fight back, but guess what: At the end of the day, it was part of the American process, part of what our founding fathers put in place for the accountability of a president of the United States,” she continued. “And this President seems not to like it, therefore, I’m a loser. And I’m okay with that.”
I love this country and have the most respect for the Office of the President. I will continue to ask the questions that affect America, all of America.
— AprilDRyan (@AprilDRyan) November 9, 2018
Last but not least, he turned his fire on CNN’s Abby Phillips, calling her reasonable question about how acting attorney general Matthew Whitaker will treat special counsel Robert Mueller “stupid.”
“What a stupid question that is,” he said. “What a stupid question. But I watch you a lot, you ask a lot of stupid questions.”
Trump lashes out at female reporter over "stupid question". pic.twitter.com/7qreJrf7Sh
— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) November 9, 2018
Phillips addressed the abuse moments later on CNN.
“I mean, I don’t know how else to ask the President as respectfully as I can the question that I think everyone is trying to answer,” Phillips said. “The President just didn’t answer the question. He criticized me. But I think we still want to know the answer to that, so I really hope that’s something that at some point in the near future reporters will have another opportunity to ask him.”
Trump has a famously combative relationship with every reporter who dares to write negative stories about him. That being said, the intensity of his fury and personal nature of his insults indicate that he has a particular soft spot when challenged by women of color.
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