Donald Trump on Thursday demanded an apology from The New York Times for saying he mocked one of its reporter's physical disability at a recent campaign event.
In two tweets on Thanksgiving afternoon, the Republican presidential front-runner denied making fun of Serge Kovaleski, who suffers from the congenital condition arthrogryposis, which limits his arm movements.
"Serge Kovaleski must think a lot of himself if he thinks I remember him from decades ago – if I ever met him at all, which I doubt I did," Trump said in the Twitter statement. "He should stop using his disability to grandstand and get back to reporting for a paper that is rapidly going down the tubes."
The statement said Trump "does not know anything about the reporter or anything about what the reporter looks like," but was simply "mocking the fact that the reporter was trying to pull away from a story that he wrote 14 years ag
The tweets followed a series of five tweets Wednesday night accusing the Times of being poorly managed and failing.
The Times did not directly report the story, but commented through a spokeswoman to other media outlets who did report on it.
"We think it's outrageous that he would ridicule the appearance of one of our reporters," the Times spokeswoman said.
The controversy began on Tuesday when Trump was speaking before a crowd of supporters in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. He was defending himself against critics who say he is wrong about seeing thousands of Muslims in New Jersey celebrating the 9/11 attacks
as they were happening.
Kovaleski, then a reporter for The Washington Post, was co-author of a story that did say New Jersey police investigated reports of people publicly celebrating, but no confirmation was ever found and officials now say no such celebrations ever happened.
Kovaleski told CNN his memory of the story are fuzzy, prompting Trump to tell the crowd, "Now the poor guy — you ought to see the guy: 'Uhh I don't know what I said. I don’t remember.' He’s going, 'I don't remember. Maybe that’s what I said.'"
It was not Trump's words, but his moving his arms and hands that drew criticism in reports by Politico, CNN and The Washington Post, Kovaleski's former employer.
Kovaleski told the Post
on Wednesday he has no doubt Trump does remember him because they met numerous times when he covered Trump's financial problems for the New York Daily News from 1987 to 1993.
"The sad part about it is, it didn’t in the slightest bit jar or surprise me that Donald Trump would do something this low-rent, given his track record," Kovaleski told the Post.
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