News & Politics

Donald Trump Tweets 'Check Out Sex Tape' of Alicia Machado

In this May 17, 1996, file photo, the new Miss Universe Alicia Machado of Venezuela reacts as she is crowned by the 1995 winner Chelsi Smith at the Miss Universe competition in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Eric Draper, File)

Updated: One ‘sex tape’ ended Machado’s engagement. See below.

In the wee hours of Friday morning, Republican nominee Donald Trump took to Twitter, seemingly to make a fool of himself. The man embraced by many Christian leaders as the “moral” choice for president explicitly told his 11 million followers to watch a sex tape.

“Did Crooked Hillary help disgusting (check out sex tape and past) Alicia M become a U.S. citizen who she could use her in the debate?” Trump asked, in a series of tweets attacking the media and Democrat nominee Hillary Clinton. Trump alleged that Clinton “was duped and used by my worse Miss U. Hillary floated her as an ‘angel’ without checking her past, which is terrible!”

Despite the obvious problem with a presidential candidate advising supporters to watch a sex tape, his allegations may or may not be true: Alicia Machado, the woman Clinton brought up in the first presidential debate, was caught on tape having sex, but she was also confused for a porn star who filmed a sex scene in 2004. Snopes reported the key difference:

In 2009, a video clip purportedly showing the former Miss Universe winner engaging in anal sex was circulated online, and that is the clip that now most frequently shows up in response to web searches on the phrase “Alicia Machado porn.” However, the woman seen in that video is not Alicia Machado — the clip was taken from the 2004 DVD Apprent*ss 4, which features porn actress Angel Dark, and was later retitled to suggest it showed Alicia Machado.

Machado did appear in the 2005 Spanish reality show La Granja, which she was reportedly kicked off of after being filmed having sex with another cast member. This sex tape, however, shows little more than grainy, night-vision footage of two people writhing in a bed, with the covers blocking potentially explicit material. Reality television being what it is, the scene could have been staged or fabricated, Snopes added.

Update: According to Britain’s The Sun, this video caused Philadelphia Phillies baseball star Bobby Abreu to call off his engagement to Machado. If so, that suggests the footage is indeed accurate, and it adds context to Trump’s claim that the “sex tape” in question (if indeed he was referring to this one) points to a sordid history.

Alicia Machado did also pose topless for Playboy magazine.

Clinton’s team wasted little time in shooting back at Trump. “This is…unhinged, even for Trump,” the Democrat posted on her Twitter account. “What kind of man stays up all night to smear a woman with lies and conspiracy theories?”

The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin called the tweet Donald Trump’s “3 a.m. moment,” referencing Clinton’s 2008 ad against then-Senator Barack Obama. In the ad, Clinton implied that Obama would not be prepared to deal with international emergencies.

Rubin argued that Trump’s “invitation for Americans to go look at a ‘sex tape’ is beyond bizarre and may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back of his campaign.” She added that “this is plainly a man unhinged, unable to accept his defeat in the debate and — tweeting in the middle of the night — lacking any impulse control.”

Ironically, Trump might have actually won the debate on Machado before this late-night tweet storm.

Next Page: Why Machado is an issue, and why some Americans couldn’t see her as a victim.

Alicia Machado won the Miss Universe pageant in 1996, on behalf of her home country, Venezuela. After winning the title, she reportedly gained 60 pounds (Machado said it was closer to 15 pounds), prompting rumors that she would be forced to give up the title. In 1997, Trump explained that he urged Machado to lose weight, rather than “terminating” her. “To that, I will plead guilty,” he reportedly said.

In May of this year, Machado told Inside Edition that Trump called her “Miss Housekeeping” because she is Latina and “Miss Piggy.” She added that these comments deeply affected her, making her feel “so fat” and “very depressed.”

“After that episode, I was sick, had anorexia and bulimia for five years,” she said. “Over the past 20 years, I’ve gone to a lot of psychologists to combat this.”

Clinton brought up Machado in the debate, attacking Trump as racist and misogynist.

And one of the worst things he has said was about a woman in a beauty contest — he loves beauty contests, and supporting them, and hanging around them — and he called this woman “Miss Piggy,” then he called her “Miss Housekeeping” because she was a Latina.

Donald, she has a name. Her name is Alicia Machado. And she has become a US citizen and you can bet she is going to vote this November.

This attack came off as a political ploy to more people than just Donald Trump. In a Fox News op-ed, Penny Young Nance, president and CEO of Concerned Women for America (CWA), argued “I can’t get to victim when I think of Alicia Machado.” She admitted that “name calling is never nice, and — shocker! — Donald Trump isn’t diplomatic in giving criticism,” but attacking the woman for her weight and asking her to lose weight, in this situation, was perfectly defensible.

Unlike the older “Miss America” pageants, “Miss Universe” did not ask questions about character or world peace, and did not even feature talent shows, Nance argued. “The women who participate voluntarily don a bikini and walk in front of judges to be, well, judged.” The CWA president added, “the participants are competing for a job based on their bodies and good looks.” This is important, and even U.S. policy recognizes that these women’s economic value is solely based on looks:

Their worth is based almost solely upon those things and, for one year, they are to represent the company with the asset of conventional beauty.  Not brains, not talent, just beauty.  Quite literally, their bodies are their money makers.

Here’s a little known fact, even the U.S government recognizes this arrangement.  I am told by friends who have modeled that they are able to write off of their taxes anything they do to keep their assets looking good. All the things women spend money on — hair, makeup, gym memberships, and even Botox — is a write off.  Even Uncle Sam gets the joke. Their bodies are their small businesses I suppose.

Machado’s willingness to take part in such pageants severely undercuts Clinton’s victim narrative, Nance argued. “Regardless of how much Hillary Clinton wants Ms. Machado to be the poster child for misused women, she doesn’t fit the narrative,” the CWA president wrote. “Let’s be honest, a woman who voluntarily puts on a bikini and literally asks people to judge her based almost solely on her body can’t be mad when they do.”

“Ms. Machado was being paid to look perfect, and when she couldn’t — or wouldn’t — live up to the standard she had asked to be measured by, she caught criticism,” Nance concluded.

The CWA president emphasized that she knows many former pageant contestants, and they were and are “smart and gifted women of noble character.” The youth branch of her organization “boasts more than one pageant winner.”

Nevertheless, she came down against the Machado abuse narrative. “As logical women, however, we can’t pretend that Alicia Machado was abused. There are millions of women across this nation who are objectified, abused victims of sexism and misogyny. Let’s work to protect them, instead of inventing new ones.”

This seemed like a false scandal, but now Trump has given it more legitimacy. The Atlantic‘s David Frum noted that Trump had “enough right on his side to make it impossible for him to let go.” His machismo couldn’t handle losing this debate, or letting sleeping dogs lie.

Next Page: Will this knock Trump out of the race?

Jennifer Rubin suggested that this event proves the #NeverTrump Republicans right: “An emotionally unstable, raging narcissist would suffer some type of public breakdown, confirming the gross malfeasance of the Republican National Committee and the foolishness of his backers.” She suggested that “just about every possible option is now on the table.”

Rubin argued that Trump could sit out the next debate, that the GOP might try to get him to step down, that conservative candidate Evan McMullin could jump in and save the Republican Party, or that Trump could destroy the GOP in November.

As callous as it may seem, I think even this episode has been overblown. It will likely hurt Trump’s poll numbers (which have already taken a dive), but chances are it will blow over, like most of his scandals and like more than a few of Clinton’s. Many of us take comfort in the hope that our November ballots will have some other name at the top than “Clinton” and “Trump,” but this remains little more than wishful thinking.