A stream of needlessly cruel insults

The New York Times tries not to laugh at Trump’s Twitterstorm.

The tweets started around 3:20 a.m. on Friday. Inside Trump Tower, a restless figure stirred in the predawn darkness, nursing his grievances and grabbing a device that often lands him in hot water.

On his Android phone, Donald J. Trump began to tap out bursts of digital fury: He mocked Alicia Machado, a former Miss Universe and a popular Latin American actress, as a “con,” the “worst” and “disgusting.”

In a final flourish, before the sun came up, the Republican presidential nominee claimed — without offering any evidence — that she had appeared in a “sex tape.”

It’s ludicrous, and in that sense funny – but it’s also horrifying and not a bit funny. He’s a very powerful rich man, and he doesn’t hesitate to try to harm women he dislikes.

Over the past few days, those instincts have been on vivid display. In quick succession, Mr. Trump has repeated his critique that Ms. Machado gained a “massive amount of weight” after she won the Miss Universe crown in 1996; suggested that former President Bill Clinton’s infidelities are fair game for campaign attacks; and urged his followers to “check out” a sex tape that may not exist. (Ms. Machado appeared in a risqué scene on a reality television show, but fact-checkers have discovered no sex tape.)

Don’t elect a chronic bully to high office. Don’t do it. Step back from the edge.

Yet for close students of Mr. Trump’s career and campaign, it all has a familiar ring. Over the years, he has issued a stream of needlessly cruel and seemingly off-the-cuff insults — both on and off social media — that have inflamed the public. He declared on Twitter that Kim Novak, a reclusive 81-year-old actress at the time, “should sue her plastic surgeon,” sending her into hiding. He derided the appearance of a rival, Carly Fiorina, angering female voters by asking: “Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?” And he criticized the mother of a slain American soldier, musing that as a Muslim woman, she was not “allowed” to speak.

Don’t elect a cruel, mean, sadistic bully to high office.

On Friday, Mr. Trump was at it again between 3:20 and 5:30 a.m., issuing a series of indignant messages that mocked Ms. Machado and Mrs. Clinton, who raised the experience of the former beauty queen to hurt Mr. Trump during the debate.

Mrs. Clinton, he wrote “was duped and used by my worst Miss U. Hillary floated her as an “angel” without checking her past, which is terrible!”

A few minutes later, Mr. Trump theorized — again, without offering any evidence — that Mrs. Clinton had helped Ms. Machado become a United States citizen so that the Democratic nominee could mention the beauty queen in the debate to hurt Mr. Trump.

Don’t elect a cruel, mean, sadistic bully who makes up his own reality to high office.

It is unusual for a major party presidential nominee to directly control any online communications, let alone issue provocative, unsubstantiated claims without the filter of a campaign aide.

But Mr. Trump is fixated on Twitter. He has nearly 12 million followers and has reveled in watching his stray thoughts become viral sensations on the social media platform. He has been fond of quoting a fan on Twitter, who described him as “the Ernest Hemingway of a hundred and forty characters.”

[choking with laughter] Does that sound familiar? Does it remind you of anyone? Yes, it does. The two are quite similar in their Twitter habits.

So like a car careening down a highway with no guardrails, Mr. Trump on Friday sent out one message after another. His suggestion of a sex tape featuring Ms. Machado sent his most zealous followers hunting for images. A few of them posted pornographic images of women who they believe resembled Ms. Machado.

Ms. Machado on Friday called Mr. Trump’s online assault “cheap lies with bad intentions” and said that she would not be intimidated.

And millions of dudebros called her names on social media.

Don’t elect a hero of dudebros on social media to high office. Step back from the edge.

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