Can you believe we're still talking about the Trumps and the Cruzes — this ridiculous political soap opera involving wives, tweets, photos and spilled beans?
Kate Bolduan can't. The CNN anchor delivered a clear message to Donald Trump adviser Stephen Miller at the end of an on-air interview on Thursday: "Tell your boss to stop perpetuating this conversation, and you and I can talk about important things."
Bolduan's directive capped a maddening, five-minute exchange in which Miller said "of course" he endorses Trump's decision late Wednesday to retweet a photo illustration featuring side-by-side images of his own wife, Melania, and Ted Cruz's wife, Heidi.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 24, 2016
Cruz responded calmly at first ...
Donald, real men don't attack women. Your wife is lovely, and Heidi is the love of my life. https://t.co/pprXhIMzUT
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) March 24, 2016
... then more angrily later on Thursday.
More Cruz: "Donald, you’re a sniveling coward, leave Heidi the hell alone."
— daveweigel (@daveweigel) March 24, 2016
"Sniveling coward." Ouch. This was the latest volley in a feud that began early in the week, as a pro-Cruz super PAC called Make America Awesome ran a social media campaign in Mormon-dense Utah (which caucused on Tuesday) featuring a racy photo of Melania Trump from a 2000 GQ photo shoot.
— McKay Coppins (@mckaycoppins) March 21, 2016
Despite the disclaimer at the bottom of the ad — "not authorized by any candidate" — Trump blamed Cruz and dragged his wife into the fray with a cryptic threat.
Lyin' Ted Cruz just used a picture of Melania from a G.Q. shoot in his ad. Be careful, Lyin' Ted, or I will spill the beans on your wife!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 23, 2016
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) March 23, 2016
As Bolduan said in her interview with Miller on Thursday, "this all could have ended yesterday." Instead, Trump escalated the situation by sharing the photo illustration of both candidates' wives with his 7.2 million followers.
BOLDUAN: Explain the retweet. Explain this coming from Donald Trump.
MILLER: I think the retweet speaks for itself. There was a vicious, mean-spirited ...
BOLDUAN: What does it speak to?
MILLER: ... uncalled-for attack on Mr. Trump's wife. And it was a personal attack about her image and appearance. And so he responded as any normal person would. So I don't really understand what the concern is.
Later, Bolduan tried to explain "what the concern is."
BOLDUAN: As I look at this retweet, as a woman, it's demeaning to not only Ted Cruz's wife; it's demeaning to Melania Trump because she's got a lot more going for her than just her looks, and you don't see that in this retweet.
MILLER: Well, I would not presume to speak as to what Mrs. Trump or Mr. Trump or anyone else in the family views the tweet. But I think the retweet speaks for itself. And I think that you and I are probably just going to have to agree to disagree on this.
There's no convincing Trump, his advisers or his diehard supporters that he's wrong. That's clear by now.
But the truly frustrating thing for Bolduan and the rest of the media is that, to some degree, they're at the mercy of Trump when it comes to the news agenda. So long as the two leading candidates for the Republican presidential nomination carry on this spouse spat, it will remain a storyline that is impossible to ignore.