Counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway said Friday that she supports President Donald Trump’s use of social media to attack his opponents, especially when so much of the media coverage of him is “neither productive nor patriotic.”
The president lashed out at one of his most frequent targets Thursday morning, pinning nicknames to MSNBC hosts “psycho” Joe Scarborough and “low I.Q. crazy” Mika Brzezinski. Of the latter, the president also said she was “bleeding badly from a face-lift” during a visit they requested at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida on New Year’s Eve.
Brzezinski and Scarborough have denied that they requested a visit to Mar-a-Lago and instead said they went reluctantly at the invitation of the then-president-elect. Brzezinski said she has never had a face-lift, although she acknowledged having skin underneath her chin “tweaked,” and the MSNBC duo noted that photos of her from the visit show no signs of injury, much less the type of bleeding Trump suggested.
Asked Friday on ABC’s “Good Morning America” if she condoned the president’s lashing out against Scarborough and Brzezinski, Conway stopped short of saying she approved of the specific attacks but said she supports his use of social media to defend himself.
“I like the fact that the president uses social media platforms to connect directly with Americans and in this case, what [White House spokeswoman] Sarah Sanders said yesterday is true, that the president normally does not draw first blood. He is a counterpuncher as he said on the campaign trail,” Conway said. “There are personal attacks about his physicalities, about his fitness for office. He’s called a goon, thug, mentally ill, talking about dementia, armchair psychologists all over television every day.
“It doesn’t help the American people to have a president covered in this light,” she continued. “I’m sorry. It’s neither productive nor patriotic. The toxicity is over the top.”
ABC anchor George Stephanopoulos countered that “Good Morning America” had led its broadcast with news of the ongoing debate over health care legislation in the Senate every day this week until Friday. Conway contended that media coverage taken as a whole has focused far too much on ongoing investigations into the 2016 election and Russia’s effort to interfere in it, at the expense of policy coverage and reporting on the president’s successes.
Stephanopoulos also presented Conway with a clip of an interview she sat for in August on his Sunday morning political talk show, “This Week,” in which she was asked about the president’s habit of hurling attacks and responded, “I don’t like it when people hurl personal insults. That will never change. I’m a mother of four small children and it would be a terrible example to feel otherwise.”
Conway did not address whether or not her past statement held true regarding the president’s statements this week but said that the clip proved her point as it pertained to the media, which she said has been “filled with raw sewage about him and his fitness for office.”
When Stephanopoulos suggested that she must approve of the president’s online posts because she had not said she did not, Conway objected.
“No, I didn’t say I endorse his attacks. I never said that, George,” she said. “What I said was I endorse his ability to fight back when he is attacked. There’s no good that comes out of people attacking the president’s physical and mental states on national television every day to the exclusion of connecting Americans with information they need.”