Chuck Todd: Trump Told Me He Has No Clue What ‘Sleepy Eyes’ Even Means

“He said once, ‘I give someone a nickname I stay with it,'” Todd tells TheWrap

Chuck Todd on Meet the Press

“Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd made headlines over the weekend when President Donald Trump dropped his favorite nickname for him — “Sleepy Eyes” — and called the NBC News political director “a sleeping son of a bitch” at a campaign rally in Pennsylvania on Saturday.

But according to Todd, Trump doesn’t even remember the origin of the schoolyard taunt or why he decided to use it on Todd in the first place.

“I’ve asked him what the ‘Sleepy Eyes’ means. He doesn’t know,” Todd told TheWrap in an interview last November. “He said once, ‘I give someone a nickname I stay with it. Sometimes I give someone a nickname and I can’t remember how I came up with it but I stick with it.’”

Trump has a long tradition of publicly using nicknames for members of the media as well as political opponents — from “Crooked Hillary” Clinton to “Low Energy” Jeb Bush to “Lyin’” Ted Cruz.


“He loves it. It’s funny,” Todd said, noting that the argument both allows the president to draw rhetorical blood while insisting that it’s not meant seriously.

“That’s always what makes covering him so difficult,” Todd said. “When you think he’s at his most vicious, he will say ‘Oh, no, we were joking. Aren’t we all part of the game? All part of the system.’”

“Sleepy Eyes” has been a consistent part of the president’s Twitter feed for at least five years, often invoked whenever the NBC anchor is mentioned.

On Sunday’s “Meet the Press” Todd, saved his outrage for the “son of a bitch” label, demanding to know how his guest, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, would explain it to his children.

“When he uses vulgarity to talk about individuals, what are they supposed to tell their kids?” Todd demanded. “What do you — what are you supposed to say when he is using these vulgarities, to kids?”

Mnuchin said he focused on “policies” with his kids and that the Pennsylvania rally had a lot of “funny moments”