First Lady Melania Trump tweeted in support of her husband, President Donald Trump, amid a controversy precipitated by an article from The Atlantic. In the story, journalist Jeffrey Goldberg used quotes from unnamed officials familiar with the situation to claim Trump said several disparaging things about members of the United States Armed Forces. Despite her efforts, many Twitter users criticized the first lady for her role in spreading the birther conspiracy theory that former President Barack Obama was not born in the United States, making him ineligible to serve as the commander in chief.
“@TheAtlantic story is not true. It has become a very dangerous time when anonymous sources are believed above all else, & no one knows their motivation. This is not journalism – It is activism. And it is a disservice to the people of our great nation,” tweeted the first lady’s official account.
The article in question quoted unnamed sources who revealed Trump did not seem to understand why people would choose to serve in the U.S. military because there wasn’t much money in doing so. Another section said the president didn’t want disabled veterans in the military parade he planned for Washington D.C. because he worried it wouldn’t be a good look for spectators. It also claimed that in 2018, he failed to visit Aisne-Marne American Cemetery near Paris because he didn’t view the soldiers buried there as winners.
The tweet received a lot of attention, racking up nearly 88,000 likes and over 27,000 retweets along with thousands of comments. Many replies were not complimentary of the first lady and several included an old tweet from President Trump in 2012 that mentioned an unnamed credible source who’d told him Obama wasn’t born in the U.S.
“Melania Trump, a birther who spread the racist birther lie, now believes anonymous sources are dangerous. What was the First Lady’s ‘motivation’ to spread a racist lie when she had no evidence?” wrote Kyle Griffin, senior producer of MSNBC’s The Last Word.
“You falsely accused President Obama of being born in Kenya,” Dr. Eugene Gu, the founder and CEO of Cool Quit, replied.
Others noted the account written by Goldberg had been confirmed by multiple news outlets, including Fox News.
“You have zero credibility, birther. The AP and FoxNews have independently verified the story. But you really don’t care, do you?” another critic pointedly commented.
Actress Patricia Arquette spoke out and reminded Twitter that Trump had said several negative things about veterans, including making remarks about Senator John McCain’s capture and subsequent status as a prisoner of war. Some of the replies questioned whether the first lady wrote the tweet herself.
A few Twitter users also pointed out that the origins of the quotes were not nameless because the journalist knew their identities. They noted journalists have a long history of protecting sources.
Very few of the replies were optimistic about the situation. Those comments that were positive lauded the president’s efforts on behalf of veterans.