The third and final Presidential debate is still four days away but President Donald Trump has already started criticizing and intimidating moderator NBC News correspondent Kristen Welker. "She's always been terrible & unfair, just like most of the Fake News reporters, but I'll still play the game," Trump tweeted late Saturday. "The people know!"
The comments come less than a week after Trump's senior campaign adviser Jason Miller said on Fox News that Welker is "very fair" and would do an "excellent job" moderating the third debate. Trump's tweet is also a complete change of tone from January, when he congratulated Welker after she was given a slot as a weekend anchor, saying NBC "made a very wise decision."
Trump in Attack Mode
Trump has previously agreed upon Welker as a moderator and was quite satisfied. However, in a sudden change of stance, the President ripped her apart in a tweet. Trump's tweet came after his oldest son, Donald Trump Jr., piped up in a retweet: "Yikes! Here we go again!" He linked to an article claiming Welker has "deep Democratic ties."
Trump also referred to Steve Scully in his tweet. Scully was supposed to moderate the second debate, which Trump refused to participate in after organizers said it would be virtual. The President called Scully a "never Trumper."
Scully has since been placed on administrative leave by the cable channel after falsely claiming that his Twitter account was hacked. The editor had addressed former White House communications chief Anthony Scaramucci, asking whether he should respond to attacks from Trump.
In addition to the tweet, Trump went after Welker during a Saturday night rally in Janesville, Wisconsin. "She's extraordinarily unfair, but that's all right," Trump said before launching into a criticism of NBC News anchor Savannah Guthrie, who moderated his town hall Thursday night in Miami.
Trump Spares No One
Welker and Scully aren't the only ones to draw Trump's ire before the respective debates. He had also criticized moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News ahead of the September 29 debate with Biden. However, journalists and politicians, as well as Trump's campaign adviser, hold Welker in high regard as fair and professional.
The Washington Women in Journalism Awards last month honored Welker as outstanding broadcast journalist of the year. That said, Welker is yet to respond to Trump's comments. Trump's attack on Welker is definitely a U-turn given that many people have praised Welker's reporting during the Trump administration, including Trump himself.