President Trump singled out a female journalist during a phone call with the new Irish prime minister, Leo Varadkar, on Tuesday, telling Varadkar, “She has a nice smile on her face. So I bet she treats you well.”
The journalist in question was Caitriona Perry, who has been the Washington correspondent for Irish state broadcaster Raidio Teilifis Eireann (RTE) since 2014.
Trump’s comment about Perry drew some adverse reaction on social media. But she appeared to take the exchange in good humor and can be heard laughing in a video clip of the exchange.
Trump told Varadkar, “We have a lot of your Irish press watching us,” referring to several Irish reporters who were present in the Oval Office for the call.
In video posted to Twitter by RTE, he turns to Perry and says, “And where are you from? Go ahead, come here, come here. Where are you from? We have all of this beautiful Irish press.”
It is not the first time Trump’s interactions with female reporters have raised eyebrows.
He famously tangled with Megyn Kelly, then of Fox News Channel, during his campaign for the White House. He also singled out NBC News’s Katy Tur, whom he would sometimes refer to as “Little Katy” during campaign rallies.
Trump told Varadkar that he was calling to congratulate him on his “great victory.”
Varadkar became prime minister, or Taoiseach, earlier this month after winning a party leadership election following the resignation of Enda Kenny.
During the call with Varadkar, Trump also acknowledged the influence of the Irish-American community in the U.S.
Right-wing news tried to play this act of sexism off by asking “why can’t anyone take a compliment anymore?” This would probably help to explain why Roger Ailes, Bill O’Reilly, and others were fired from Fox News for sexual harassment.
— Caitriona Perry (@CaitrionaPerry) June 27, 2017