CNN —  

On Monday, surrounded by a cavalcade of aides and well-wishers, President Donald Trump announced that he had renegotiated and renamed the North American Free Trade Agreement. (It’s now called USMCA for United States-Mexico-Canada. Creative!)

Trump was ebullient, basking in the plaudits from the likes of US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer – among others. He was feeling so good that he decided to take some questions from reporters. Trump called on Cecilia Vega of ABC News first. Here’s the original transcript of the exchange – as provided by the White House:

TRUMP: Okay, question. Yeah. Go ahead. Sure. She’s shocked that I picked her. She’s like in a state of shock.

VEGA: I’m not. Thank you, Mr. President.

TRUMP: That’s okay. I know you’re not thanking. You never do.

VEGA: I’m sorry?

TRUMP: No, go ahead. Go ahead.

So, yeah.

Then, on Tuesday morning, the White House released a corrected transcript of the exchange that a) reflected what Trump had actually said and b) made things even worse. Here’s that:

TRUMP: Okay, question. Yeah. Go ahead. Sure. She’s shocked that I picked her. She’s like in a state of shock.

VEGA: I’m not. Thank you, Mr. President.

TRUMP: That’s okay. I know you’re not thinking. You never do.

VEGA: I’m sorry?

TRUMP: No, go ahead. Go ahead.

So “thanking” – which never made any sense – becomes “thinking.” And like I said, bad becomes worse.

There are three lessons to be learned or, really, re-learned in this brief but important episode.

1. Trump is a bully

The President’s rise in the 2016 presidential race was fueled in no small part by his remarkably well-honed bullying instincts. There was “low energy” Jeb Bush. And ‘Lyin’” Ted Cruz. And Rand Paul, who Trump could say a lot about but decided not to because the Kentucky senator was irrelevant in the presidential race. Trump, during the campaign, turned name-calling and taunting into a political strategy. As long as they weren’t the ones being bullied, people kind of liked it – “He tells it like it is!” and all that.

That bullying trait is very much on this display with Vega. Trump is surrounded by his people, celebrating. Vega is a lone reporter standing up to ask a question. (She tried to ask Trump about the confirmation fight of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, but he refused to answer because the question wasn’t about the trade deal.) This is basic schoolyard bullying stuff. You’re in a position of power, so you and your buddies decide to have a laugh at someone’s expense. Someone who is literally just doing her job.

2. Trump has no understanding how the media works

Again and again – he did it last week at his press conference in New York City and again on Monday – Trump queries reporters as to whether they are going to ask him a “good” question or a “bad” one. What he means by that is simple: Is the question one that he will like or one that he will not like? Which, of course, isn’t anything any reporter worthy of the name would worry about. You ask the question that you think it’s important for the public to know the answer to. That’s it.

And speaking of things that Trump should know: Reporters get to ask about whatever topic they and their news organization believe to be relevant. Both Vega and CNN’s Kaitlan Collins tried to ask questions about Kavanaugh – confirming a Supreme Court justice is kind of a big story! – only to be shut down by Trump because the questions weren’t on his preferred topic of trade. (Collins eventually got her question on Kavanaugh answered.)

3. Trump has a tin ear for the current #MeToo moment

I don’t know if Trump is unaware or simply doesn’t care about the massive cultural shift over the past 18 months occasioned by a series of revelations regrading women being victimized by men in power. But one of the lessons of the #MeToo movement is that women must be listened to, not interrupted or shamed. Given that, it’s more than a little troubling when the President of the United States – someone who has more than a dozen women alleging that he acted inappropriately toward them – seems to delight in trying to embarrass a female reporter who, and I can’t emphasize this enough, is simply doing her job. (Nota bene: Trump has denied all of the allegations against him. During the campaign he promised to sue each of the women making the accusations. None of those suits have been filed.)

None of this new. But none of it is normal either. We would do well to remember that.