Trump haters in the media are really overplaying their hand.
Since Donald Trump’s historic upset of Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election, the once-respectable American news media has been awash in rumor-mongering coverage of the first family that’s more suited to British tabloid “exposes” about the British monarchy than an American institution protected by the U.S. Constitution.
But the media’s obsession with the supposed state of matrimony between the president and first lady Melania Trump has hit a new low — and given the American public new reason to despise and distrust it.
The latest dustup is swirling around footage of the Trumps leaving Air Force One Friday after arriving in Charlotte, North Carolina, for the Rev. Billy Graham’s funeral.
Business Insider — a normally respectable publication — played up the video under the headline “Melania Trump has been spotted avoiding holding the president’s hand multiple times — here’s what it might say about their relationship.”
Well, for starters, it says a lot more about the media’s relationship with the White House than it does anything else.
And when the whole question is compared to how the media treated previous presidents — especially Democrats — it’s almost infuriating.
But first, take a look at the video in question.
Ludicrous headline aside, here’s how Business Insider described the scene:
“When they disembarked, ABC footage shows Trump repeatedly trying to grab Melania’s hand while she eludes his grasp. It’s unclear whether Melania’s behavior was a deliberate snub or whether she was simply trying to keep her outfit together.”
Well, it might have been unclear to writer Shana Lebowitz, but it was crystal clear to the branch of humanity that does not live to loathe the Trump presidency.
Considering the March wind howling through Charlotte – the remnant of a nor’easter that savaged the East Coast on Friday — the first lady was doing an admirable job keeping her skirt within the bounds of propriety, in a setting where she had to know from long experience that cameras are recording every move.
(Doubtless the media would prefer a picture of Melania with her skirt flying — a la Marilyn Monroe in “The Seven Year Itch” — but the statuesque former model has more sense, and class, than that.)
Business Insider and like-minded publications have spent more than a year obsessing over various imagined “snubs” of the president by the first lady allegedly failing to take his hand in public. (Examples here from CNN and Newsweek are a fair representation.)
But no similar, microscopic coverage has ever been focused on a Democrat couple in the White House. For the Obamas, life was pictured as a never-ending love story between the leading man and leading lady of “Southside With You.”
And while the Clintons, God help us, provided grist for a lifetime’s worth of Lifetime movies, the vast majority of mainstream media coverage was of the “how-awesome-is-Hillary-to-keep-it-together-like-this” variety.
Given what we know now about the first lady of Bill Clinton’s White House — the woman who sold out the country’s uranium resources, got Americans murdered in Benghazi, Libya, and rigged a presidential nomination before trying to steal a presidential election — the 1990s look hopelessly naive.
Back then, Clinton scandals were mainly confined to adulterous oral sex in the Oval Office, rampant perjury and the first presidential impeachment since the Reconstruction era.
We were all so innocent then.
So, given the choice, which first couple would you prefer?
The whole Trump hand-holding controversy is less than a tempest in a teapot.
The first lady was trying to be ladylike, protecting her modesty from a voracious wind.
The mainstream media — and their trolling counterparts on social media — are trying to play it as the coldest of shoulders for the president.
But they’re really overplaying their hand on this one, and American voters know it.
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