Not since the publishing of the children’s book “Where’s Waldo” has there been such interest in the whereabouts of a person as there has been with Melania Trump – not even Teamster President Jimmy Hoffa.
Following what was reported to be minor surgery, the First Lady had not made any public appearance for almost one month. When she did appear at a White House event honoring Gold Star families, the press was not allowed into the room. They had to rely on official White House photographs that showed Melania sitting next to the President in the front row of the crowded East Room.
Was that really her or was the picture photoshopped? Yeah, that is a silly question, but with the mindset of the media these days, no speculation is too outrageous.
In taking to Twitter, Melania not only gave vague hints about her absence, but demonstrated a snarky fatigue with the hours of media reporting and speculating. She wrote:
“I see the media is working overtime speculating where I am & what I’m doing. Rest assured, I’m here at the @WhiteHouse w my family, feeling great, & working hard on behalf of children & the American people!”
The First Lady’s spokesperson, Stephanie Grisham, pushed back on the media a bit harder. In an interview on FOX New, Grisham said that ““Mrs. Trump has always been a strong and independent woman who puts her family, and certainly her health above all else, and that won’t change over a rabid press corps,”
“She’s confident in what she is doing and in her role, and knows the rest is just speculation and nonsense,” Grisham added.
In referring to the press corps as “rabid,” and accusing the media of “working overtime speculating” and dealing in “nonsense,” there can be no doubt that Melania found all the fact-challenged reports and analyses more than a little annoying and disingenuous. That sort of pushback is significant because it comes from a First Lady with a reputation for being reserved and non-controversial.
The only fact available to the press was that the First Lady was not making public appearances for several weeks following surgery – and that she would not join the President on his trips to the G7 summit in Canada and the North Korean denuclearization talks in Singapore. That is where facts ended and a variety of speculations began – some scurrilous.
The media spent untold hours and column inches speculating on the idea that perhaps her recovery was not going as well as was announced. In the worst cases, they saw her absence as evidence in support of a favored ongoing narrative – that her absence from the spotlight was due to troubles in the marriage. In some cases, reporters suggested that Melania’s disappearance was an indication that she is walking out on the President. Of course, none of the speculation turned out to be true. It was more wishful thinking than factual reporting.
Many see this as yet another example of the biases and speculations that are pushing out real news within the so-called news industry. Did Melania’s temporary unexplained absence from the cameras really deserve all those days of coverage? Hardly.
Larry Horist is a conservative activist with an extensive background in economics, public policy and political issues. Clients of his consulting firm have included such conservative icons as Steve Forbes and Milton Friedman, and he has served as a consultant to the White House under Presidents Nixon and Reagan. He has testified as an expert witness before numerous legislative bodies, including the U. S. Congress and lectured at Harvard University, Northwestern University, Florida Atlantic University, Knox College and Hope College. An award-winning debater, his insightful and sometimes controversial commentaries appear frequently on the editorial pages of newspapers across the nation. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.