The recent Melania Trump interview and profile in GQ was met with consternation from Melania Trump herself and absolute rancor from Donald Trump’s devoted supporters. Donald Trump, a New York City brand licensor and real estate magnate, is the presumptive 2016 Republican nominee for president. When Melania Trump’s profile was published in GQ on April 27, Trump’s opponents Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Governor John Kasich (R-OH) were still in the race.
Julia Ioffe, the journalist who conducted the interview and wrote the profile, was on the receiving end of viciously anti-Semitic attacks on social media and by telephone almost immediately following the article’s publication. She received tweets with attached images of her face superimposed over images from the Holocaust and old cartoons containing offensive caricatures of Jewish people.
Now I'm getting phone calls from a blocked number that play Hitler's speeches when I pick up. Sad!— Julia Ioffe (@juliaioffe) April 28, 2016
Julia Ioffe wrote a profile of Melania Trunp, and Melania expressed her displeasure on facebook. Her fans noticed pic.twitter.com/I9Y8DEX9oQ— Jamie (from before) (@Jamie1947) April 30, 2016
Julia Ioffe filed a police report in her home city of Washington, D.C., on Monday, May 9, following about two weeks of this treatment. According to The Washington Post, the official criminal complaint on Ioffe’s report is “threat to kidnap or injure a person,” and the report states that Ioffe received these threats through phone calls and via email.
“C-1 states that an unknown person sent [Julia Ioffe] a caricature of a person being shot in the back of the head by another, among other harassing calls and disturbing emails depicting violent scenarios.”
Donald Trump, who has run a campaign that is consistently under fire for his own allegedly racist, sexist, and misogynistic comments as well as those of his supporters, did not take an opportunity to condemn the violent threats and frightening anti-Semitism directed at Julia Ioffe by his self-professed fans. Wolf Blitzer of CNN offered him the opportunity to send a message to his supporters to stop this behavior, but Donald Trump refused, stating, “I don’t know anything about that […] I don’t have a message to the fans.”
Julia Ioffe has filed a report w/ DC police over the anti-Semitic threats she received after Melania Trump profile https://t.co/B0aS37rQkV— Rebecca Shabad (@RebeccaShabad) May 9, 2016
Melania Trump has reason to believe that she was blindsided by the results of the interview, as the profile is unflattering by anyone’s standards. Julia Ioffe accurately describes Melania Trump as “traditional” but makes a few cracks about her looks and the 24-year age difference between Melania and Donald Trump, and refers to Melania Trump condescendingly as “obedient” and a “long-legged doll.” There is also a claim that there is “talk” in Slovenia that she refuses to speak Slovenian, though Melania Trump has told press several times that her 10-year-old son, Barron Trump, is fluent and speaks Slovenian with her parents.
“When he first met Melania — at a party during New York Fashion Week in the fall of 1998 — Donald Trump was 52. He was brash and brassy, fabulously wealthy, the stuff of New York legend. Melania Knauss was 28, a tall, shy brunette whose face had yet to acquire the taut, plasticine squint that makes it look as if cameras are forever catching her a second before a sneeze.”
Julia Ioffe quotes an “old friend” of Melania Trump’s from Slovenia: “People say she’s smart; she’s well-educated like Jackie Kennedy, but … she’s smart for [sic] the things she’s interested in, like jewelry. She’s not stupid; she’s not a bimbo, but she’s not especially clever.”
Melania Trump not only designed her own jewelry line with original sketches, but she is reportedly at least proficient in five languages, including her native Slovenian and heavily-accented but fluent English. She raises her son without the help of a nanny. Julia Ioffe’s interview takes a condescending and arguably cruel tone throughout, and it delves into the private affairs of Melania Trump’s father, including the situation surrounding the paternity and child support of her older paternal half-brother.
Melania Trump referred to the article as “disingenuous reporting,” and she argues that her family back in Slovenia are private citizens. She says that the details of their personal lives are not newsworthy nor relevant to the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Julia Ioffe defended the interview and profile by claiming that “rumors” involving Melania Trump’s father and half-brother were already circulating in Slovenia — though due to the age of Melania Trump’s half-brother, Denis Cigelnjak, who is 50 years old, it’s difficult to imagine that these are recently enthusiastic rumors. “If it wasn’t me, somebody else would have reported it,” Ioffe told press. She also said that she was “sorry if it caused discomfort for [Melania Trump] and her family.”
Julia Ioffe is also a contributing writer for Politico and The New York Times. She has enlisted the Anti-Defamation League to help her and D.C. Metro Police identify the people responsible for sending and phoning criminal threats. She told the press that as of Monday, the harassment had not stopped.
[Image courtesy of Spencer Platt/Getty Images]