Trump's "Facelift" Attack on MSNBC Host Shocks, Frustrates and Distracts Cable Newsers

A prevailing theory about the cause of the tirade was that it was a 'Morning Joe' segment about Trump hanging up a fake Time magazine.

Another morning, another news cycle interrupted. On Thursday, in a series of tweets, President Donald Trump decided to criticize MSNBC's Morning Joe co-anchor Mika Brzezinski, calling her "I.Q. Crazy Mika" and saying that she was "bleeding badly from a face-lift" when she and co-host Joe Scarborough asked to join him at his Florida home on New Year's Eve.

Cable news networks pivoted quickly to cover the tweets and the reactions that came in from across the media and political landscape. The majority of responses, not surprisingly, were negative, even from Republican politicians. A few minutes after 12 p.m. ET, MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell asked Republican Sen. Susan Collins about the tweets. "There is no need for such uncivil language," she said. "The president's tweet was completely inappropriate."

At 12:09 p.m., CNN's John King ripped up a note card and said, "Look, I had to do this when I came in today and rip up the show we were planning to do, which was about immigration, which was about health care. … This isn't some guy in a bar. This isn't some boorish, sexist guy in a bar making an ass of himself. This is the President of the United States."

Earlier in the morning, Bill Hemmer, who anchors the Fox News morning show America's Newsroom, asked White House deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders about the tweets during her appearance. Sanders defended Trump and said, "This is a president who fights fire with fire and certainly will not be allowed to be bullied by a liberal media and the liberal elites within the media or Hollywood or anywhere else."

Fox News' Brit Hume noted in a Twitter reply: "Please explain how the president of the United States can be 'bullied' by the hosts of what he says it is a low-rated cable TV show? Absurd."

A few minutes before 10 a.m., MSNBC formally released a statement about Trump's tweets. "It's a sad day for America when the president spends his time bullying, lying and spewing petty personal attacks instead of doing his job," the network said.

MSNBC Live anchor Ali Velshi covered the network's response to the tweets at about 11:10 a.m.

At 11:45 a.m., CNN's corporate communications department tweeted: "We stand with @MSNBC’s @MorningMika and @JoeNBC."

As always, there was an attempt among journalists to determine which cable news segment might have triggered Trump's mini-tweetstorm, with the prevailing theory that it was a Morning Joe segment Thursday morning about Trump hanging up a fake Time magazine with him on the cover at his Florida home, a story revealed this week by The Washington Post. "Nothing makes a man feel better than making a fake cover of a magazine about himself, lying every day, and destroying the country," Brzezinski said during the segment.

All the cable networks covered Speaker Paul Ryan's weekly press conference, which focused on immigration. But when Ryan was asked about the tweets, he said, "Obviously, I don't see that as an appropriate comment."

Following the press conference, CNN's Kate Bolduan came on and laid out what she called a "choose your own adventure" for news anchors.

Referring to Ryan and his Republican colleagues, she said, "They want to talk about immigration and some votes they'll be taking later today, or health care, and they're also being forced to answer questions about what the president is talking about today, a vicious attack against a female news anchor that happened this morning."

Bolduan welcomed CNN political director David Chalian, and said to him: "David, I'm struggling here. Where should we begin? Should we begin with substance and policy, what lawmakers on Capitol Hill want to focus on, or should we begin with what the president clearly is focused on: morning television and his attacks against a morning news anchor?"