WASHINGTON — First lady Melania Trump held a White House event Tuesday to mark one year since the official launch of her “Be Best” initiative on children’s well-being, announcing the expansion of two of the initiative’s areas of focus, opioid abuse and online safety.
Flanked by White House and Cabinet officials, members of federal agencies who have worked on the initiative, as well as students, Trump pledged to continue her focus on promoting “safe and positive online behaviors.”
That particular Be Best objective has endured perpetual mockery because of President Donald Trump’s penchant for launching vicious personal attacks on Twitter, directly undermining his wife’s message.
In some instances, a Be Best event and an angry round of tweets from the president have occurred almost simultaneously.
During her opening remarks Tuesday, the first lady briefly acknowledged “the support” of the president, who was in attendance.
“As I have said before, it is not news or surprising to me that critics and the media have chosen to ridicule me for speaking out on this issue, and that’s OK,” Melania Trump said in November at the Family Online Safety Institute’s annual conference. “And I hope that, like I do, you will consider using their negative words as motivation to do all you can to bring awareness and understanding about responsible behavior.”
Like her husband, the first lady has also chided the media for lampooning her initiative.
“I’d say the opportunists who are using my name or my family name to advance themselves, from comedians to journalists to performers, book writers,” she said in a December interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity, who regularly provides fawning coverage of her husband’s administration. “It doesn’t hurt. The problem is they’re writing the history and it’s not correct.”
Last year, during a period when she had not appeared in public for nearly a month, she tweeted that “the media is working overtime speculating where I am” — using language reminiscent of the president’s media-bashing tweets.
After her Be Best launch event last year, the first lady’s office issued a statement accusing reporters of “baseless accusations towards the First Lady and her new initiatives,” when Be Best’s pamphlet on online safety appeared to plagiarize a similar document from the Obama administration.
This negativity toward the press from a first lady and her employees is highly unusual, as several historians and political scientists told HuffPost last year ― one of several ways that Melania Trump’s handling of the role has been radically different from her predecessors.
In Trumpian fashion, one of the speakers at Tuesday’s event lavished praise on the first lady. Former Fox News host Eric Bolling ― who lost his son to opioid addiction and moderated a Be Best event on opioids earlier this year — said that compared to her predecessors, Melania Trump has “gone one step further and saved lives,” and called her “the most important and accomplished first lady in American history, full stop.”