President Donald Trump mocked Greta Thunberg, the Swedish 16-year-old climate activist, calling her distinction as Time magazine's Person of the Year "ridiculous" Thursday and suggesting that she work on anger-management issues and go to a movie with a friend.
Trump's advice, in a morning tweet, came a day after Thunberg, who has mobilized millions of people to fight climate change and condemned leaders' inaction, became the youngest person to be dubbed Person of the Year by Time.
"So ridiculous," Trump tweeted. "Greta must work on her Anger Management problem, then go to a good old fashioned movie with a friend! Chill Greta, Chill!"
Trump was responding to a tweet congratulating Thunberg by Roma Downey, an actress and producer from Northern Ireland. Her production credits include the History Channel miniseries "The Bible," which she also starred in as Mary, mother of Jesus.
She is also married to Mark Burnett, a producer on Trump's previous NBC reality television series, "The Apprentice."
Thunberg, who has been diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, wasted little time in offering a rejoinder to Trump. Shortly after his tweet, she had updated her Twitter profile to read: "A teenager working on her anger management problem. Currently chilling and watching a good old fashioned movie with a friend."
Trump, who has called climate change a "hoax," also took note of Thunberg in September, following an appearance at a United Nations climate summit where she offered an impassioned - and somewhat fatalistic - plea to global leaders.
"She seems like a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future. So nice to see!" Trump wrote on Twitter at the time.
Thunberg subsequently embraced Trump's sarcastic description and altered her Twitter profile to describe herself to her followers as "a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future."
At her U.N. appearance, Thunberg chastised leaders for praising young activists such as herself while failing to deliver on drastic actions needed to avert the worst effects of climate change, and she warned that if the world continued with business as usual, her generation would face an insurmountable catastrophe.
In explaining Time's choice of Thunberg as Person of the Year, the magazine's editor in chief, Edward Felsenthal, said Wednesday that "she became the biggest voice on the biggest issue facing the planet this year, coming from essentially nowhere to lead a worldwide movement."
Thunberg represents a broader phenomenon of young people pushing for change, Felsenthal said during an appearance on NBC's "Today" show. He pointed to the Parkland, Florida, high school students who became a leading voice on gun control, as well as to another finalist for 2019 Person of the Year: the Hong Kong protesters who have spent months in the streets urging democratic reform.
A few hours after Trump's tweet, his campaign sent out an altered image of the Time magazine cover featuring Thunberg - with Trump's head superimposed on Thunberg's. In the campaign's version, Trump was the Person of the Year, with a cover that promoted "the power of promises kept.
Trump, who was among the five finalists for the distinction this year, has had a long obsession with the magazine's selections, dating back before he became president.
Fake 2009 Time covers showing Trump as person of the year and touting his days as host of "The Apprentice" have been found hanging in several of his golf clubs.
In 2015, as a candidate for president, Trump took to Twitter to complain after Time chose German Chancellor Angela Merkel for her leadership in the Greek debt crisis and European migrant crisis.
"I told you @TIME Magazine would never pick me as person of the year despite being the big favorite," he tweeted. "They picked person who is ruining Germany."
Time did pick Trump in 2016 after he defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton, prompting a tweet that called the selection "a great honor."
In 2017, Trump weighed in again on the selection process, writing on Twitter: "Time Magazine called to say that I was PROBABLY going to be named 'Man (Person) of the Year,' like last year, but I would have to agree to an interview and a major photo shoot. I said probably is no good and took a pass. Thanks anyway!"
Time disputed Trump's account.
Last week, first lady Melania Trump - and subsequently a bevy of Trump allies - admonished Pamela Karlan, one of the legal scholars who testified at a House impeachment hearing, for making a joke involving 13-year-old Barron Trump.
"A minor child deserves privacy and should be kept out of politics," Melania Trump tweeted. "Pamela Karlan, you should be ashamed of your very angry and obviously biased public pandering, and using a child to do it."