By Tristan Lejeune - 06-30-17 05:54 AM EDT
The hosts of MSNBC's "Morning Joe" accused President Trump of lying and called on him to end his "unhealthy obsession with our show" in a Friday morning op-ed responding to the president's Twitter attack the day before.
"For those lucky enough to miss Thursday's West Wing temper tantrum, the president continued a year-long habit of lashing out at 'Morning Joe' while claiming to never watch it," Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough wrote for The Washington Post, saying Trump "fit a flurry of falsehoods in his two-part tweetstorm."
I heard poorly rated @Morning_Joe speaks badly of me (don't watch anymore). Then how come low I.Q. Crazy Mika, along with Psycho Joe, came..- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 29, 2017
...to Mar-a-Lago 3 nights in a row around New Year's Eve, and insisted on joining me. She was bleeding badly from a face-lift. I said no!- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 29, 2017
Brzezinski and Scarborough call it "false" that they asked to join Trump three nights in a row, "laughable" that he refused to see them and "a lie" that she was bleeding from a face-lift.
"Putting aside Mr. Trump's never-ending obsession with women's blood, Mika and her face were perfectly intact, as pictures from that night reveal," the co-hosts write. "Mika has never had a face-lift. If she had, it would be evident to anyone watching 'Morning Joe' on their high-definition TV."
They add: "She did have a little skin under her chin tweaked, but this was hardly a state secret."
Trump's tweets drew condemnation from both sides of the aisle, with Democrats denouncing them as sexist and Republicans calling for a return to civility.
The White House defended the MSNBC attack, saying the president was fighting "fire with fire." Deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was grilled by reporters over the comments at Thursday's press briefing, but she pushed back, saying it was Trump who was being "personally attacked, day after day" in the press.
"He's not going to sit back and be attacked by the liberal media, Hollywood elites - and when they hit him, he's going to hit back," she said.
Scarborough and Brzezinski said in their Friday op-ed Trump is clearly "not mentally equipped to continue watching our show" if it so upsets him.
"We believe it would be better for America and the rest of the world if he would keep his 60-inch-plus flat-screen TV tuned to 'Fox & Friends.'"
In a startling accusation, the co-hosts, who are engaged to be married, said members of the administration threatened bad publicity against them if they refused to apologize to the president for their coverage.
"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.
Brzezinski and Scarborough addressed the "blackmail" attempt during Friday's "Morning Joe."
"The president is friends with the guy that runs the National Enquirer" and would personally call to have the story killed, Scarborough said, adding he had "three people at the very top of the administration" repeatedly pressing him to apologize to Trump.
Following those comments, Trump said on Twitter that he "said no" when asked if he could halt the story:
Watched low rated @Morning_Joe for first time in long time. FAKE NEWS. He called me to stop a National Enquirer article. I said no! Bad show- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 30, 2017
Scarborough responded minutes later:
Yet another lie. I have texts from your top aides and phone records. Also, those records show I haven't spoken with you in many months. https://t.co/TZWiElo6Gs- Joe Scarborough (@JoeNBC) June 30, 2017
Trump was the recipient of the National Enquirer's first-ever political endorsement during his campaign last year. In an interview published in The New Yorker this week, Enquirer owner David Pecker defended his tabloid's largely positive coverage of the president, saying, "The guy's a personal friend of mine."
Updated at 9:09 a.m.