It can’t be overlooked that being President won’t stop Donald Trump from being a Twitter troll and yet his wife wants to make combating cyberbullying a focus of her time in the White House.
The President managed to shock, yet again, with his tweets when he directed his graphic online ire at MSNBC cohosts Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough Thursday morning, although it is his comments about Brzezinski that quickly drew outrage.
This latest barrage of tweets from Trump was described by the first lady Melania Trump’s office as a counterpunch instead of cyberbullying.
“As the First Lady has stated publicly in the past, when her husband gets attacked, he will punch back 10 times harder,” the first lady’s communications director Stephanie Grisham said in a statement to CNN when asked about the tweets.
Without repeating them (why bother?), although you can see them here, the President of the United States insulted the woman’s intelligence and referred to her as having a bloody face after cosmetic surgery.
It’s not clear what set Trump off against Brzezinski. But it is hard not to view what the President tweeted as cyberbullying. It’s also hard to figure out his strategy in hitting the tweet button.
Regardless, try to square the fact of a president whose tweets bully a woman on television and a first lady, Melania Trump, who has pledged to make cyberbullying one of her main focuses.
The specifics of how she’ll focus on the issue have not yet been released. But she did promise during the presidential campaign and after to work to fix the way Americans communicate online.
“We have to find a better way to talk to each other, to disagree with each other, to respect each other” the then-candidate’s wife said in November of 2016, just before the presidential election in the suburbs outside Philadelphia.
The focus of Melania Trump’s effort was supposed to be children and protecting them on social media. But it’s not too far a stretch to apply that code to everyone. (A number of Trump critics have caused outrages of their own for targeting his son, Barron, with tweets, so this is not a one-sided debate. But those Trump critics aren’t the President and Trump is also the master of Twitter trollling.)
The details of Melania Trump’s cyberbullying effort have not yet been unveiled and a spokesperson for the first lady said it would still be an effort she undertakes, but did not yet have any details to share.
Before the election, CBS’ “60 Minutes” correspondent Leslie Stahl pointed out to Melania and Donald Trump the oddity of her desire to focus on cyberbullying and his status as a noted Twitter troll.
Trump said she had scolded her husband for his tweets and that some had crossed the line, but ultimately she has no control over them.
“Sometimes he listens, sometimes he doesn’t … I think he – he hears me,” she said. “But he will do what he wants to do on the end. He’s an adult. He knows the consequences. And I give him my opinion. And he could do whatever he likes with it.”
Back in March of 2016, NBC’s Matt Lauer asked Melania Trump, in a more lighthearted setting, which of her husband’s habits she wished he’d give up.
“The tweeting,” was her response. He clearly didn’t pay attention.