After President Trump spent part of his Thursday morning attacking MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski, his wife, Melania, defended the actions despite stating during the campaign that she would make the fight against cyberbullying her priority as first lady.
President Trump called Brzezinski “low IQ” and said he refused her entry to a New Year’s Eve party when she was bleeding from a face-lift.
“As First Lady has stated publicly…when her husband gets attacked, he will punch back 10 times harder,” Melania’s communications director said in regards to the latest online insults hurled by the president.
Melania Trump’s stance is a departure from her attitude during the campaign, when she focused on children but noted the overall dangers of online attacks. She specifically singled out people who criticize “looks or intelligence.”
“Technology has changed our universe. But like anything that is powerful, it can have a bad side,” she said during a rare speaking appearance at a November rally. “We have seen these already. As adults, many of us are able to handle mean words, even lies. Children and teenagers can be fragile. They are hurt when they are made fun of or made to feel less in looks or intelligence. This makes their life hard and can force them to hide and retreat. Our culture has gotten too mean and too rough, especially to children and teenagers. It is never OK when a 12-year-old girl or boy is mocked, bullied, or attacked. It is terrible when that happens on the playground. And it is absolutely unacceptable when it is done by someone with no name hiding on the Internet.”
We have to find a better way to talk to each other, to disagree with each other, to respect each other,” she continued. “We must find better ways to honor and support the basic goodness of our children, especially in social media. It will be one of the main focuses of my work if I’m privileged enough to become your first lady.”
The disconnect between Melania Trump’s promise and her husband’s campaign tactics were quickly noted. Lady Gaga, the pop star and antibullying advocate, tweeted at her, saying, “to say u will stand for ‘anti-bullying’ is hypocrisy. Your husband is 1 of the most notorious bullies we have ever witnessed.”
And through five months of a Trump White House, there has been no movement on Melania’s program as the president continues to use his platform to attack everyone from his predecessor to a union leader in Indianapolis to Snoop Dogg.
“Mrs. Trump is being very thoughtful when it comes to building out her initiatives,” said spokesperson Stephanie Grisham in a May statement to USA Today, adding that she values “quality over quantity” in assembling her staff.
However, a White House official told Politico earlier this month that the issue was no longer a priority.
According to that story, “It’s still not clear exactly what initiative Melania Trump will make her platform — during the campaign, she said she would use the role of first lady to speak out against cyberbullying. But that initiative has since been cast aside, another White House official said.”
It went on to say, “Her spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham, claimed Melania Trump is still passionate about the issue, even though she has yet to highlight it in any public appearance. ‘While cyber-bullying is something she speaks out against, that is but one subset of her focus around the overall wellness of children,’ Grisham said in an email.”
The first lady has not mentioned bullying of any kind since taking office and has not outlined any other planned proposals.