President Trump reprimanded a female reporter at the White House on Friday, telling her to be “quiet” and calling her “so obnoxious.”
On Friday, while answering a question about his meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the president said, “We’re building a military so strong, nobody is going to mess with us. But I don’t want to have to use it.”
When CBS correspondent Weijia Jiang began to ask why he felt North Korea no longer posed a nuclear threat, Trump held up his hand to seemingly silence her and said, “Quiet,” before turning to another person and remarking, “She’s so obnoxious.” Then he chided Jiang again with “Quiet” while holding up his hand.
Afterward, Jiang, who did not return Yahoo Lifestyle’s request for comment, tweeted that Trump shushed her “at least 5x” but added, “To his credit, he did answer plenty of our questions.”
Trump has tangled with women reporters before: During the first Republican presidential debate, in August 2015, Megyn Kelly questioned him about calling certain women “fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals.” Trump told CNN, “There was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever.”
In 2017, during a phone call with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, the president beckoned over a female reporter, saying, “Come here, come here. Where are you from? We have all of this beautiful Irish press.” He then told Varadkar, “Caitriona Perry. She has a nice smile on her face, so I bet she treats you well.”
Trump’s troubles with women in the media span decades: In a 2000 interview on his private jet with the award-nominated author Ruby Wax, Trump discussed his first presidential campaign and his adoration and “respect” for women. But at one point, he became irritated by Wax’s questions and called her “angry with a smile” and “too obnoxious.” Wax quipped, “He keeps using that word; it’s so insulting.”
Trump concluded the interview by conceding that Wax was “not as obnoxious as I said … but still very obnoxious … but that’s OK.”
Wax called the interview “one of the most excruciating moments of my career. It did not feel good.”
And in 1995, British ITV reporter Selina Scott spend two weeks profiling Trump, an experience that “started with a charm offensive, but ended in bitterness, recrimination and intimidating letters that only stopped when I threatened legal action,” she wrote in the Daily Mail. She added, “Over many years he sent me a series of intimidating letters branding me ‘sleazy, unattractive, obnoxious and boring.’ He said I was ‘totally uptight,’ and that I had begged him for a date. In his dreams!”
Christia Brown, a professor of developmental psychology at the University of Kentucky, in Lexington, and author of Parenting Beyond Pink and Blue, says that female reporters, whose profession mandates them to be assertive and challenge their subjects, may present an explicit threat to men in power.
Another example is attorney Elizabeth Beck, who in 2015 requested a break during a deposition with Trump in order to pump breast milk. “He got up, his face got red, he shook his finger at me, and he screamed, ‘You’re disgusting, you’re disgusting,’ and he ran out of there,” Beck told CNN. Trump responded by telling the news outlet, “She wanted to breast pump in front of me, and I may have said that’s disgusting, I may have said something else. I thought it was terrible.”
“There’s a stereotype that’s been proven in social psychology, that women can either be nice or effective. They can’t be both,” Brown tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “So when women are assertive in their profession — especially when they have to ask tough questions — they’re often criticized for their personality traits.”
Calling a woman “obnoxious” is a personal zinger because unlike the descriptors “aggressive” or “ambitious,” which can serve as beneficial depending on the setting, the word “obnoxious” is wholly negative. “It’s a word used to describe a bratty child, for example,” says Brown. “It’s a way to diminish a woman’s confidence or imply that speaking up is a character flaw.”
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