President Donald Trump attacked an ABC News reporter for no apparent reason on Monday during a White House Rose Garden press conference on the new trade deal struck overnight by the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Video of the president’s insult quickly went viral on social media, drawing swift condemnation and a response from the reporter he insulted.
It all started when at one point during the question-and-answer session, the president called on Cecilia Vega, a White House correspondent for ABC News. As he waited for the microphone to be passed to Vega so she could pose a question, Trump began a bizarre side commentary.
“She’s shocked that I picked her,” he observed to the crowd gathered behind him. “She’s in a state of shock.”
“Thank you, Mr. President. I’m not,” she responded after she was handed a microphone.
“That’s OK, I know you’re not thinking. You never do,” Trump sniped.
“I’m sorry?” a bewildered Vega responded.
“No, go ahead,” the president said. Vega still tried to process the unprovoked attack, but then went ahead with her question, which was about the FBI investigation into his Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Trump, however, refused to answer the question, saying he would come back to her later and instead forced her to ask about the trade deal.
As Amber Phillips of The Washington Post pointed out, this outburst is part of a pattern of behavior that commonly occurs when he tries to establish male dominance while interacting with women reporters. An expert Phillips had previously talked to, who studied the role of gender dynamics in the 2016 election, said, “One way he exercises his ‘masculine power’ is to talk to and about women on the basis of their appearance, instead of more substance.” Trump often criticizes women for issues unrelated to any issues that actually matter — as he did on Monday in the Rose Garden. Vega hadn’t even asked a question yet, and Trump was already on the attack. Oh, and remember that time Trump actually interrupted his official presidential duties to comment on a woman reporter’s looks? That’s another good example of this off-putting behavior.
Not surprisingly, many on Twitter were swift to denounce the uncalled-for insult.
“This is institutionalized misogyny,” one Twitter user wrote.
“He has made a mockery of our presidency,” another user on Twitter wrote.
And yet another Twitter user, using more blunt terms, spoke for many when she declared, “He’ such a PIG.”
But perhaps the best response to the episode came from Vega, who gave him a reminder that the First Amendment is protecting her and other journalists’ right to ask the president questions.
A news conference means you get to ask whatever question you want to ask. #FirstAmendment
— Cecilia Vega (@CeciliaVega) October 1, 2018
After the fact, the White House attempted to change the facts of what Trump said to Vega. As many reporters noted, the official transcript of the press conference suggested that Trump said, “I know you’re not thanking (emphasis by Women in the World). You never do.” Eventually, the White House, realizing it wasn’t fooling anyone, switched the word back to “thinking” in a new version of the transcript released on Tuesday. You can’t make this stuff up, folks.
The White House has corrected its official transcript to reflect that the president told @CeciliaVega, "I know you're not thinking. You never do." Previous version said, "I know you're not thanking. You never do." pic.twitter.com/YQbhtH2WLB
— Kathryn Watson (@kathrynw5) October 2, 2018
Below, watch the full exchange between Trump and Vega and see for yourself what he actually said.
President Trump: "She's shocked that I picked her"
"I'm not, thank you Mr. President," @CeciliaVega says ahead of a testy exchange in which Trump declined to answer her question on Kavanaugh to talk trade.
He answered it later, calling for a "comprehensive" FBI investigation pic.twitter.com/YE5zyftSGn
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) October 2, 2018
Read the full story at The Washington Post.