Bullying does not just happen…it’s a strategy politicians use on and off the playground. Here’s the history of one in the news.
Hillary Clinton’s accusation during Monday night’s debate that Donald J. Trump had once mocked a teenage Latina beauty queen as “Miss Piggy” and “Miss Housekeeping” unexpectedly led to familiar territory: He rehashed his decade-old feud with the comedian Rosie O’Donnell.
“Somebody who has been very vicious to me, Rosie O’Donnell, I said very tough things to her and I think everybody would agree that she deserves it and nobody feels sorry for her,” Mr. Trump said, after Mrs. Clinton’s accusation that he had mistreated Alicia Machado, a Venezuelan who won the Miss Universe competition in 1996.
Over the years, Mr. Trump has returned again and again to his feud with Ms. O’Donnell — whom he has called “fat” and “a slob” — hurling insults at her on talk shows, Twitter and from the debate stage during the Republican primaries. How did the whole thing start?
As it turns out, with another young beauty queen.
In 2006, 20-year-old Tara Conner won the Miss USA pageant, a franchise of which Mr. Trump was a co-owner, but she soon found herself under fire because of tabloid reports that she was drinking, using drugs and had been seen kissing a woman.
Mr. Trump was not pleased. Ms. Conner faced the prospect of losing her crown until he relented, publicly forgiving her in a televised news conference at Trump Tower. “I’ve always been a believer in second chances,” he said.
That is where Rosie O’Donnell came into the picture. Ms. O’Donnell was then a co-host on “The View,” and she used her seat around the show’s signature table to criticize Mr. Trump (who at the time had been divorced twice after accusations of marital infidelity) as a hypocrite for his showy display of public forgiveness.
Ms. O’Donnell mocked his haircut, tousling her hair to mimic a comb-over, and put on a cartoonish Queens accent. She criticized his many bankruptcies and his record of not paying contractors who had done work for him. She said he was like a snake-oil salesman.
Soon some of the other co-hosts joined in, to the laughter and applause of the studio audience. On Monday night, Ms. O’Donnell shared a clip of the segment on Twitter, calling it something Mr. Trump “can’t seem to get over.”
He threatened to sue. He unleashed a verbal fusillade on “Entertainment Tonight,” calling Ms. O’Donnell “disgusting” and “a slob” with “a fat, ugly face.” He said he wanted to take her to court so he could “take some money out of her fat-ass pockets” and wondered aloud why anyone would choose to be in a roman
Indeed, for Mr. Trump, it all seems to have been too much.
He threatened to sue. He unleashed a verbal fusillade on “Entertainment Tonight,” calling Ms. O’Donnell “disgusting” and “a slob” with “a fat, ugly face.” He said he wanted to take her to court so he could “take some money out of her fat-ass pockets” and wondered aloud why anyone would choose to be in a romantic relationship with her.
“We’re all a little chubby, but Rosie is just worse than most of us,” he said. “But it’s not the chubbiness. Rosie is a very unattractive person, both inside and out.”
Mr. Trump went on “Late Show With David Letterman” to talk about his dislike for Ms. O’Donnell and to announce that Ms. Conner, then 21, had gone into rehab. He called Ms. O’Donnell, who had recently come out as a lesbian, “a degenerate.”
And then there is Twitter, Mr. Trump’s social media platform of choice for personal attacks. For years he has peppered Ms. O’Donnell with insults online, calling her things like “fat”, “rude, crude & not smart” and “a mentally sick woman, a bully, a dummy and, above all, a loser.” In 2013, a Twitter user asked if his feud with Ms. O’Donnell was over. “No, it will never end, but she has become totally irrelevant!” he replied.
For years, Mr. Trump’s attacks on Ms. O’Donnell were treated by many as a source of humor — just a reality TV host stirring up a spectacle — and he frequently repeated his insults in interviews and online.
In 2014, Ms. O’Donnell told People magazine that his attacks were probably the worst bullying she had experienced. “It was national, and it was sanctioned societally. Whether I deserved it is up to your own interpretation,” she said.
Mr. Trump did not let that interview pass by unremarked. Soon after, he tweeted at her, “@Rosie—No offense, and good luck on the new show, but remember, you started it!”