Tomi Lahren appeared on Fox and Friends Wednesday, and Huffington Post reports that she used some of her appearance time to decry critics of First Lady Melania Trump. Lahren posited that Melania is attacked far more aggressively and more often than former First Lady Michelle Obama, and said shows like Fox News would never treat Michelle Obama in the same way as other outlets.
Lahren was apparently responding to political pundit Ana Navarro, who poked fun at Melania’s platform against cyberbullying on Twitter.
Navarro is far from the first political commentator to point out the ironic fact that First Lady Melania Trump is leading the charge for better social media manners with her #BeBest campaign, while her husband often uses Twitter to belittle others. However, it was Navarro’s commentary that particularly seemed to anger Lahren.
Lahren said in response to the critique, “Can you imagine if we would sit here and attack Michelle Obama for something she was trying to do to better the country? We’d be attacked up and down. But because it’s Melania, because her last name is Trump, people like Ana Navarro think it’s okay that they’re entitled to do that,” she said.
This statement led to almost instantaneous Twitter backlash as respondents pointed out that yes, Michelle Obama did endure scathing criticism as First Lady, and that some of it even came from the direction of Fox News and its commentators. Obama was criticized often for her looks, intelligence, race, and more. The attacks levied were often racial and personal in nature. During the 2008 Presidential campaign, Fox News even labeled Michelle Obama, who was married to then-Senator and presidential candidate Barack Obama, with a chyron reading “Obama’s baby mama.” That incident landed the network in quite a bit of controversy.
Lahren isn’t wrong that Melania Trump deals with a lot of criticism. Where she erred was in assuming this type of critique was new, unique, or in any way specific to the Trump family. While there are certainly many detractors critiquing them for personal beliefs, the political landscape has always been scrappy, messy, and at times incredibly harsh.
With the popularity of Twitter and other social media, more political pundits have wider audiences than ever before. As the dozens of responses proving Lahren wrong showed, it’s an ongoing issue that shows no signs of abating. Political figures, including the president himself, now have the freedom to share their thoughts with millions instantly.