WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump ridiculed the looks and temperament of a female cable television host whose show he says he has stopped watching.
In a series of tweets Thursday morning, the president went after Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough, who have criticized Trump on their MSNBC show "Morning Joe."
"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 ... 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!"
Brzezinski responded on Twitter by posting a photograph of a Cheerios box that has the phrase "made for little hands." Critics looking to get under the president's skin have long suggested that his hands appear smaller than usual for his frame.
Five-term congresswoman Lynn Jenkins, R-Kansas, said on Twitter: "This is not okay. As a female in politics I am often criticized for my looks. We should be working to empower women."
Jenkins was invited to appear at noon Thursday on CNN to discuss the issue with anchor Wolf Blitzer.
Two Republican senators also said the president's crude tweet was beneath the dignity of the office.
Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse said on Twitter: "Please just stop. This isn't normal and it's beneath the dignity of your office."
South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham tweeted: "Mr. President, your tweet was beneath the office and represents what is wrong with American politics, not the greatness of America."
Sasse did not support Trump in the presidential race, and Graham ran against Trump for the GOP nomination.
"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," NBC News spokeswoman Lorie Acio said in a statement.
The White House did not immediately respond to questions about the tweets, including what it was that set the president off.
About two hours before the president's tweets, Brzezinski said on the show that "it's not normal behavior" for any leader to be tweeting about people's appearances, bullying, lying, undermining managers and throwing people under the bus.
Saying that if any business executive behaved the way Trump does, "There would be concern that perhaps the person who runs the company is out of his mind."
On their Wednesday show, Brzezinski and Scarborough roundly mocked Trump for displaying in several of his golf resorts a fake Time Magazine cover featuring himself.
"That's needy," Brzezinski said on the show.
About 15 minutes before the president himself tweeted, White House social media director Dan Scavino similarly attacked the hosts.
"#DumbAsARockMika and lover #JealousJoe are lost, confused & saddened since @POTUS @realDonaldTrump stopped returning their calls! Unhinged," Scavino wrote on his personal account.
Trump was correct that the MSNBC hosts spent time at the president's Florida resort, a visit that Scarborough said was to arrange a Trump interview.
The hosts confirmed they are engaged to be married earlier this month.