Two television hosts attacked by U.S. President Donald Trump questioned the Republican leader’s mental health on Friday and accused him of trying to exert pressure on them over unfavorable coverage, calling it blackmail.
Trump drew a barrage of criticism on Thursday, including from his fellow Republicans, after he called Mika Brzezinski, a co-host of the MSNBC “Morning Joe” program, “low I.Q. Crazy Mika” and said she was “bleeding badly from a face-lift” when she visited his Mar-A-Lago estate around New Year’s Eve.
He referred to her co-host Joe Scarborough, a former Republican U.S. congressman, as “Psycho Joe.”
The two television anchors, who were on friendly terms with Trump early in the 2016 presidential campaign but have been critical of him since he took office, responded with a column in The Washington Post on Friday.
“This year, top White House staff members warned that the National Enquirer was planning to publish a negative article about us unless we begged the president to have the story spiked. We ignored their desperate pleas,” they wrote.
Scarborough added on the “Morning Joe” show on Friday that he received calls from three top administration officials asking the co-hosts to call Trump and apologize for their coverage of his administration. They told him that if he called and apologized, Trump would get the story killed, Scarborough said.
“The calls kept coming, and kept coming. And they were like ‘Call, you need to call. Please call. Come on, Joe. Just pick up the phone and call him,'” Scarborough said. “It’s blackmail.”