Two things have long obsessed President Trump: Time’s person of the year and the 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg.
This week they collided when Time picked her for its annual cover. It was never in doubt that the president would tweet about it. The only question was when.
Early Thursday, the answer arrived.
“So ridiculous,” Mr. Trump tweeted. “Greta must work on her anger management problem, then go to a good old fashioned movie with a friend! Chill Greta, Chill!”
Ms. Thunberg was quick to respond.
“A teenager working on her anger management problem,” read a new version of her Twitter biography. “Currently chilling and watching a good old fashioned movie with a friend.”
Thursday’s exchange was not the first tangle between Mr. Trump, whose administration has attacked climate science and rolled back environmental regulations, and Ms. Thunberg, who was in Madrid for the United Nations climate conference this week.
After she delivered a pointed speech at the United Nations in September, the young activist became a lightning rod for criticism. Mr. Trump tweeted a clip of her speech with the seemingly sarcastic message: “She seems like a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future. So nice to see!”
That time, Ms. Thunberg also changed her Twitter biography, describing herself as “a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future.”
Fox News apologized in September after a pundit called Ms. Thunberg “a mentally ill Swedish child” on one of its programs. (Ms. Thunberg has Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism, and has called it “a superpower.”)
Mr. Trump wasn’t the only person to criticize Time’s 2019 selection.
“No matter your political leaning, whether you love her or hate her, whether you’re for Trump or against him,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi “has had a much bigger impact,” Jake Sherman, a senior writer at Politico, said on Twitter on Wednesday.
Ms. Thunberg was selected over Ms. Pelosi, Mr. Trump, the Ukraine whistle-blower and the Hong Kong protesters, who won Time’s 2019 person of the year in a reader poll that had more than 27 million votes.
Ms. Thunberg told The Associated Press she was “surprised” to learn she had been selected as Time’s person of the year, but said the accolade should be shared.
“It should be everyone in the Fridays for Future movement because what we have done, we have done together,” she said.