First lady Melania Trump warned against “destructive” social media use during a speech at a cyberbullying summit in Rockville, Maryland on Monday — just days after her husband, President Trump, tweeted derogatory, racist insults at a former White House staffer.
“In today’s global society, social media is an inevitable part of our children’s daily lives. It can be used in many positive ways, but can also be destructive and harmful when used incorrectly,” she said.
The first lady then referenced her anti-bullying initiative, Be Best, saying it was important to teach upcoming generations “how to conduct themselves safely and in a positive manner in an online setting.”
“Let’s face it: most children are more aware of the benefits and pitfalls of social media than some adults, but we still need to do all we can to provide them with information and tools for successful and safe online habits,” she said.
First Lady Melania Trump: Social media "can be used in many positive ways, but can also be destructive and harmful when used incorrectly." pic.twitter.com/d6tzFxE9AK
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) August 20, 2018
Mrs. Trump’s comments come as President Trump faces backlash against comments he posted from his personal Twitter account last week, insulting former public liaison director Omarosa Manigault Newman, who is currently making the rounds to promote her new book, Unhinged: An Insider’s Account of the Trump White House.
In the book, Manigault Newman accuses Trump of a variety of things, claiming at one point to have heard an audio recording from Trump’s time hosting The Apprentice in which he uses the n-word.
“Wacky Omarosa, who got fired 3 times on the Apprentice, now got fired for the last time. She never made it, never will,” Trump tweeted Monday. “People in the White House hated her. She was vicious, but not smart.”
When you give a crazed, crying lowlife a break, and give her a job at the White House, I guess it just didn’t work out. Good work by General Kelly for quickly firing that dog!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 14, 2018
The following day, Trump took the feud a step further, using racist language to degrade Manigault Newman. “When you give a crazed, crying lowlife a break, and give her a job at the White House, I guess it just didn’t work out,” he tweeted. “Good work by General Kelly for quickly firing that dog!”
Trump has a history of deploying derogatory language and racist epithets on social media in order to criticize those who disagree with him. He has repeatedly called Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas” — even referencing the insult during an award ceremony for the World War II Navajo code talkers — frequently tweets that the media is the “enemy” of the American people, and recently wrote that NBA star LeBron James was unintelligent.
Representatives for the first lady say they can recognize the contradiction between those comments and Mrs. Trump’s Be Best campaign, which aims to tamp down on cyberbullying and encourage children to adopt “positive social, emotional and physical habits,” and relies heavily on a handbook initially published by the Obama administration.
“She is well aware of the criticism, but that will not deter her from doing what she feels is right,” the first lady’s communications director, Stephanie Grisham, told CNN Monday morning. “I would hope most people in this country are proud that they have a strong and independent First Lady who only has the best interests of children at heart.”