Donald Trump has made no secret of his contempt for reporters, whom he calls "fake news" and "enemy of the American people." He is also had unkind things to say about women and people who are African-American.
This week, he hit a trifecta, singling out three African-American women who are journalists. The women - Abby Phillip, April Ryan and Yamiche Alcindor - earned his contempt apparently just for asking him questions.
Mr Trump called one of Ms Phillip's questions "stupid," described Ms Ryan as "a loser" and brushed off Ms Alcindor, saying her question was "racist."
Ms Phillip, a CNN reporter and former Washington Post journalist, drew Mr Trump's wrath, after she asked whether he hoped Matthew Whitaker, Mr Trump's appointee as acting attorney general, would "rein in" special counsel Robert Mueller's probe of Mr Trump's presidential campaign.
"What a stupid question that is. What a stupid question," he snapped. He did not answer the allegedly "stupid" question, but he did pour more contempt on Ms Phillip. "I watch you a lot," he said. "You ask a lot of stupid questions."
"You talk about someone who's a loser," Mr Trump said of Ms Ryan, a reporter for American Urban Radio Networks and a contributor to CNN. "She doesn't know what the hell she's doing. She gets publicity and then she gets a pay raise, or she gets a contract with, I think, CNN. But she's very nasty and she shouldn't be. You've got to treat the White House and the office of the presidency with respect."
Mr Trump's "loser" comment came two days after he admonished Ms Ryan at a White House news conference.
"Sit down! I didn't call you," Mr Trump commanded after Ms Ryan tried to ask him about alleged voter suppression in the midterm elections. "Such a hostile media, it's so sad," Mr Trump added as Ms Ryan pressed him. "You rudely interrupted him," Mr Trump told her, referring to another reporter.
A few moments later, Ms Alcindor asked Mr Trump about his recent characterisation of himself as "a nationalist" and whether that label was "emboldening white nationalists."
Mr Trump interrupted her and responded, "I don't know why you say that, that is such a racist question." He repeated that characterisation - "racist" - two more times.
Mr Trump has disparaged many people, so his responses to Ms Phillip, Ms Ryan and Ms Alcindor might simply reflect equal-opportunity contempt. But all three of the latest examples fall into the categories of people - journalists, women, African-Americans - for whom Mr Trump has reserved special nastiness. Among the African-American figures are Democratic Representatives Maxine Waters of California and Frederica Wilson of Florida.
"He's not able to finesse his disdain for certain people," Ms Ryan said. "Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately because you can see for yourself what it is, perception is reality with this president. . . . He attacks the people he feels are beneath him."
She added, "He's not apparently built for this. Being in the pressure cooker of the White House has exposed him for what he is."
Ms Phillip did not respond to several requests for comment. Ms Alcindor declined to comment but tweeted after Wednesday's news conference.
"I followed up the president calling my question 'racist' with a policy question about his proposed middle class tax cut because that's what journalists do. We press on. We focus on the privilege of asking questions for a living. We do the work."
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders did not respond to a request for comment.
The attacks on the three women left Sarah Glover, the president of the National Association of Black Journalists, shaking her head.
"The most powerful man in the free world is verbally abusing journalists," she said. "Donald Trump's comments this week have reached an all-time low with attacks on three black female journalists."
She called Mr Trump's comments about Ms Ryan, Ms Phillip and Ms Alcindor "appalling and irresponsible. They should be denounced."
The Washington Post
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