Melania Trump is officially the most litigious first lady in American history, National Post is reporting. She holds that distinction because she is actually the only first lady to have ever filed a lawsuit – and won – against a publication that has published false stories about her.
It’s part of Mrs. Trump’s overall strategy of fighting back against her critics.
Post writer Emily Heil notes that it’s not uncommon for first ladies to be the subject of glaring and salacious headlines, usually in the supermarket tabloid section. They’ve supposedly scratched their husbands in anger. They’ve snuck out of the White House for secret trysts. They’re secretly aliens.
And while Mrs. Trump has undoubtedly been featured in such patently-ridiculous, Weekly World News-style stories, the publications that she’s gone after are the type that expect to be taken a little more seriously. Such as Britain’s Telegraph.
As reported last week by the Inquisitr, Mrs. Trump collected “substantial damages” from the paper, although the specific amount is unclear, for a report the previous week. That report claimed, falsely, that Melania’s father, Viktor Knavs, was a “fearsome presence” who “controlled the family.” It also stated that Melania left her Design and Architecture course at the University of Ljubljana because she was having difficulty completing an exam; in fact, the future Mrs. Trump left school because she wanted to pursue her modeling career. The publication additionally stated that she owed her modeling career largely to Donald Trump. None of those statements are true, and the paper awarded punitive and compensatory damages to the FLOTUS in response.
Last week’s victory over the Telegraph was merely the latest in a successful series of lawsuits against publications that published false or misleading stories about her. She also collected unspecified damages from a Maryland blogger who wrote that she had worked as an escort. And in the one case in which the amount of money she was awarded is actually known, in 2017 she collected $2.9 million from the Daily Mail, which had also claimed Mrs. Trump had worked as an escort.
Get used to it, says Melania’s lawyer, Charles Harder, who is quick to remind the media that unlike other first ladies, Melania Trump isn’t afraid to file suit.
“First lady Melania Trump will continue to enforce her rights against reckless writers, reporters, editors and publishers who make false statements about her.”
So why have other first ladies been so reluctant to involve the courts when damning and false stories have been published about them? Discounting the supermarket tabloid headlines, which any court would deem satire, there’s the fact that suing a publication over a story draws attention to it and would bring more readers to it. It’s an embarrassment previous first ladies have chosen to avoid. But not Melania; she’s taking a page out of her husband’s playbook. Donald Trump has also, in his career, filed defamation lawsuits against publications that have published negative stories about him.