People are calling on a Trump official to resign after she called veteran reporter April Ryan "Miss Piggy" on Twitter Wednesday.
Lynne Patton, a former wedding planner who now runs the federal government’s housing programs in New York and New Jersey, posted a fat-shaming tweet that read, "I hear #MissPiggys still on a rampage. Gee, I must've struck a nerve, @AprilDRyan! #BankruptBlogger."
“This is serious,” Ryan told People magazine Thursday afternoon. “This is not a joke.”
“It’s not resolved, not at all. The things she said were terrible. She didn’t only talk about me, she talked about the company I worked for,” she added. “All lies. It’s not over.”
Patton has frequently sparred with journalists and Democrats on her personal Twitter account, at one point inexplicably throwing shade at Hillary Clinton's book, What Happened.
A longtime friend of the Trump family and former director of the Eric Trump Foundation, Patton was appointed to the top post this past summer. She has no previous experience in government or housing policy. She did, however, plan Eric and Lara Trump's 2014 wedding at Mar-a-Lago.
Ryan is not a blogger; she is the White House correspondent for the American Urban Radio Networks.
Patton has since deleted her tweet, but the internet doesn't forget.
“My company and I are having a big conference call later. They are not happy about this, not at all,” Ryan told People.
The drama started when journalist Porter Anderson tweeted a CNN clip of Ryan discussing this White House's combative attitude toward the media (see: Fake News Awards, pretty much any day in the White House) and how reporters continually get death threats.
Patton felt the need to insert herself into the conversation.
"As a conservative black female who has publicly worked for & supported @realDonaldTrump, I’ve been getting death threats from fellow minorities on the left for the past 3 years — so welcome to the club, @AprilDRyan," she tweeted.
Ryan fired back with tweets of her own.
While no one should be sending death threats to anyone, Anderson's point was about the administration's treatment of the press and how it has emboldened Trump supporters.
During the 2016 campaign, as just one example, some people wore T-shirts emblazoned, "Rope. Tree. Journalist." to Trump rallies. (Walmart pulled the shirt from its website after a journalism advocacy group pushed for it.) The shirt has an unfortunate double connotation not only of abusing the press, but of lynching African-Americans. Neither the campaign nor the administration have ever addressed these attacks.
"We live in an environment in which political and ideological discourse has deteriorated to the level where some find it appropriate to advocate violence targeting journalists merely for performing their Constitutionally guaranteed duty to seek and report the truth," Dan Shelley, the executive director of the Radio Television Digital News Association, the group which complained, said at the time.
Patton doubled down with a quote from Sarah Huckabee Sanders in which she says, "The only 'War on Women' that I see is the one that's being waged against every woman and every female that is close to this president."
The HUD official did take down her tweet and apologize.
"Tonight, I made an inexcusable comment on my personal Twitter account that I deeply regret & deleted on my own volition. I sincerely apologize to @AprilDRyan. I also wish to apologize to my staff at @HUDNY_NJ, @SecretaryCarson & the
#Trump family who deserved better leadership," she wrote.
The Trump administration has repeatedly abused and disregarded the press, stoking its supporters' resentment by doing things like sending a bizarre anti-media survey.
For reporters of color, Ryan told CNN, covering this administration is an even tougher task.
"Now if you question [the Trump White House], you're considered someone from the opposing party, versus just trying to get the facts. And God forbid, you are someone of a different race, I was speaking of myself, you're considered an opposition. I don't bring my politics, I just ask questions about what's right and wrong, or things that go on in Washington," she said.
The White House has a contentious relationship with Ryan. Last year, Trump assumed she could put him in contact with with the Congressional Black Caucus...because she is Black. For the first time in 20 years, she wasn't invited to the White House Christmas party. She has also reported that former senior Trump official Omarosa Manigault physically threatened her. And after the shithole comment heard 'round the world, Ryan asked, "Mr. President, are you racist?"
Housing and Urban Development Secretary Dr. Ben Carson was reportedly "deeply disappointed" with what happened.
"I spoke with Dr. Carson and he was deeply disappointed by what occurred. He tried reaching out to April this morning, but wasn’t able to reach her. He offers his deepest apologies," conservative pundit and entrepreneur Armstrong Williams tweeted at Ryan.
Ryan tweeted in response that she was thankful for the apology.
Let's see if Dr. Carson will follow through on his deep disappointment and fire Patton. Ryan told People, “Dr. Carson was very gracious and kind and I accept his apology.”
Additionally, Refinery29 has reached out to FLOTUS Melania Trump, who has made cyberbullying one of her signature issues. (She yet to present a comprehensive plan on combating the topic.)
A representative at HUD's Office of the Regional Administrator says Patton has no comment on the matter. We wish she did. It's not a blame game — it's a conversation about respect for the media, especially the women in it, that is long overdue for us all to have. Asking tough questions is not an attack. It's a service.
We've also reached out to April Ryan and Armstrong Williams and will update this post when we hear back.