Instead of dropping his habit of cyberbullying, Trump apparently told Melania she should drop the issue of cyberbullying from her 'Be Best' campaign.
When Melania Trump first proposed the idea for her anti-cyberbullying "Be Best" campaign, Trump reportedly tried to dissuade her from going forward with the initiative, knowing it would attract criticism due to his own pattern of using Twitter to harass and bully his critics.
According to The New York Times, Trump told Melania she should "choose a different topic to avoid questions about how the wife of a notorious Twitter bully could lead a campaign to spotlight anti-bullying and other child wellness efforts," and warned her that she was opening the door for such criticism.
Days before the election in 2016, Melania announced she would use her position as first lady to combat cyberbullying. But in the time before her launch of "Be Best," reports circulated that the plan to focus exclusively on online behavior was "cast aside." The New York Times wagered it was due to "the criticism leveled at Mr. Trump for his online insults."
Ultimately, Melania ended up sticking with the anti-cyberbullying platform.
In May 2018, she announced the start of her new initiative, which was predictably met with swift backlash — and not just because of her husband's tendency to engage in the very behaviors her campaign discourages.
Immediately after the rollout, "Be Best" was hit with allegations of plagiarism when it was revealed that some of the campaign's written materials copied text from Obama-era Federal Communications Commission (FCC) guidelines regarding child internet safety.
In June, after Trump launched a Twitter attack on Jimmy Fallon, the comedian used part of his monologue to question what, if anything, Melania was doing to stop cyberbullying.
"As you may have heard, last night, the president of the United States went after me on Twitter," Fallon said. "So Melania, if you’re watching, I don’t think your anti-bullying campaign is working."
While it's not exactly surprising that the potential for backlash came up during the planning of Melania's initiative, it speaks volumes that Trump's suggestion for dealing with it was to drop the issue of cyberbullying completely — rather than dropping his habit of cyberbullying.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.